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Determining whether or not your child is ready for kindergarten is a big decision. In fact, putting a child in kindergarten or beginning homeschooling too early can be like running on a treadmill that’s set too fast. Yet, how can you know if your child is ready to make the leap into formal education?

When it comes to preparing a child for kindergarten, the ABCs and 123s naturally come to mind, but to most veteran kindergarten teachers, there are more important factors.

In a 1995 report from the National Center for Education Statistics, while 60% of parents thought it was particularly important that children could count to 20 or recite the alphabet before kindergarten, only 10% of teachers viewed those skills as critical. Instead, kindergarten teachers can remarkably predict a child’s success based on their attentiveness, desire to learn, ability to categorize, and emotional readiness that includes a desire to learn.

To cultivate a positive attitude and create an excitement for learning, here are nine things you can do as a parent to prepare your child for kindergarten.

1. Turn off the TV.

Instead of this passive activity, engage your child through playing and using their imaginations.

2. Give kids responsibilities.

Involve your child in your family through chores that can be academic and provide a sense of accomplishment, even if it’s just putting away groceries after a trip to the store or matching socks.

3. Read to them.

Expose your children to the plethora of words in our language through reading out loud to them. Research has proven that rhyming is crucial to learning how to read so don’t forget the classic nursery rhymes.

4. Go on field trips.

Take your child to the library, the zoo, and the park. In a post-COVID world, this is perhaps more important than ever as many kids have missed these learning opportunities the past couple of years.

5. Teach children to listen.

Train your child’s ears to listen to more than just your instructions, but also to sounds like music, the wind, birds, or even just the tick of the clock. All these things can help phonics come easier to kids.

6. Give children social experiences.

Have playdates with other children and expose them to adults to teach your kids that all people deserve respect.

7. Have a schedule.

Help your child understand the concept of time through simple phrases like, “We’ll have snack after reading time.” Also, most 5-year-olds require 10-12 hours of sleep, so be sure to prioritize adequate rest.

8. Introduce children to school supplies.

Encourage the development of fine motor skills through coloring, cutting, and pasting.

9. Teach uppercase and lowercase letters.

Sometimes we are so familiar with the language that we forget the basics that all letters come in two sizes. When teaching how to write your child’s name, emphasize that the capital letter comes first.

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