Use Summer to Help Kids Prepare for Kindergarten

Read, talk and play this summer to get them ready for success in kindergarten!

Read, talk and play this summer to get them ready for success in kindergarten!

While you're planning BBQ's, family outings and other summer pastimes with young children, don't forget the most important summer activity: getting kids ready for kindergarten.

Research shows that social and behavioral skills, such as motivation, self-discipline, focus, and self-esteem, begin to take root from birth to 5 years old. Children who have these traits are more likely to be successful in school. But in a national survey, two-thirds of kindergarten teachers said students are coming to their classrooms unprepared.

"Often kids that have little to no pre-school experience, don't know how to stand in line, how to use a pencil or even recognize their own name spelled out," said Heidi Boyter, a kindergarten teacher at Jefferson Elementary School in Winslow. "Instead of trying to figure that stuff out when they start school, it will save them time to come prepared, so they can begin learning sooner."

Summer time can be the best time to prepare children for kindergarten and it does not have to cost you any money.

First Things First has gathered tips to help families and friends get your preschooler ready for success in kindergarten and beyond!

• Read! Put reading first and read with your child at least 30 minutes per day. Try books that repeat or rhyme words; involve activities like counting, identifying colors, objects or letters; or, are about things your child likes. Ask questions about the story like, "What do you think happens next?"

• Go to the library! ReadOnArizona.org has information about the summer reading program available through most libraries. It also includes tips for reading with your child, book suggestions and a log to track your child's progress.

• Scribble! Writing begins with scribbling. Give your child safe writing tools to play with, like crayons, chalk or markers and blank paper. Ask your child to tell you about their drawings and post them on the fridge.

• Talk, talk, talk! Talk with your child everywhere - at home, in the car, at the store. Make up stories or songs about your outings.

• Build Independence! Teach your child how to use the bathroom by themselves, to wash their hands after going to the bathroom and before eating, to blow their nose and sneeze into their elbow.

• Stay healthy! Schedule a visit with your child's doctor and dentist. Health problems make concentrating difficult and lead to school absences.

• Sleep! Make sure your child gets 8-10 hours of sleep every night, and start every day with a healthy breakfast.

• Share! Teach your child how to share and let them help you clean up so they get used to putting things back where they found them.

• Build Routines! Help your child get used to the structure of the school day by establishing regular routines for waking up and dressing, meal times, and bath and bed times.

Preparing your child for the first day of school doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. Enjoying books together, playing games at the park and spending quality time with family are all ways that you make memories with your kids and give them a strong foundation for future learning. If you have younger children, it's never too early to give them a head start on learning so they are ready for school and set for life!

More tips are available at azftf.gov in the Parents section.

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