My five year old, Aurora, will start kindergarten in the fall… that's kind of scary to see written out! She's my oldest, so this is all foreign, and I feel quite unprepared for this new phase of life we're about to enter in to. Aurora is excited though, she's so social and loves to learn... she continually asks if it's Fall yet so she can start school!
I love her enthusiasm, and thankfully for me, we've got a few months to figure things out and get a bit more prepared. We're using this summer to really target kindergarten academics, focused behavior, and social skills. The three ways I've been implementing these goals are through excellent curriculum, a disciplined home culture, and educational playdates.
My Favorite Kindergarten Curriculums
A simple Google search will turn up lots of results for kindergarten readiness checklists. I like this one from I Can Teach My Child as it has very specific and measurable goals. I do think it's important to keep in mind that all kids develop differently and may excel in some of these areas and need to catch up in others, but it's also necessary to have some sort of benchmark work from.
After locating clear goals, I then began researching about pre-k and kindergarten learning resources. Aurora really likes doing worksheets, so I got her the Brain Quest Workbook which we've both enjoyed going through. It's so colorful and engaging that she'll often sit and do five or six pages at a time! I also wanted some first reader books for her, and because she likes the Disney princess movies I selected their Level 1 Reading Adventures. There are so many thematic options that you can probably find something to fulfill any child's interest.
We also have a subscription to ABC Mouse which the kids like to play on the iPad. I like that it keeps track of their individual progress and gives me a report outlining what they're doing well and what they need to work on. They like all of the fun educational games and the ticket reward system it uses is really cool!
Tips for Creating a Disciplined Home Culture
I'm a very organized individual, so our house runs on a pretty predictable routine. Some might call it boring, but I like that the kids always know what's expected of them. We wake up, have breakfast and get ready for the day. Then, if there are no morning activities going on we'll spend a hour or two reading, crafting, doing workbooks, or playing with building toys.
While I make lunch the kids do a few chores like picking up their play room, dusting, and unloading the dishwasher. I like to give them tasks that foster responsibility. As they work on a job that helps the whole family they learn focus, discipline, and listening skills. All things that will be important upon entering kindergarten.
Educational Outings in the Omaha Area
After lunch we like to go out and do something fun. We'll frequently meet friends at the zoo, children's museum, Fontenelle Forest, library, pool, or Early Childhood Center. Not only is this a great outlet for developing social skills, but each of these activities offers plenty of "edu-tainment."
The Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo has keepers that teach about various animals and their habitats. The Omaha Children's Museum offers a kindergarten readiness program that lets kids grab a free booklet and work through the activities as they go through the museum. Most local libraries offer summer reading programs and craft time. Getting involved in community events is a great way to meet friends and learn in a hands on setting!
I'm sure kindergarten will be a great experience for Aurora, preparing now really puts me at ease as we transition to this next major step in her life. I want her to go in feeling confident and curious; ready to explore and perceive new ideas. The whole wide world is before her, and there's so much to discover.