Kindergarten is the New First Grade

Is your preschooler ready?

By Brandpoint

Kindergarten is the New First Grade

When you think back to your own kindergarten experience, it probably involved a half-day program and plenty of fun activities — finger painting, sand play and nap time. Perhaps the hardest parts were learning the alphabet and counting to 100.

Fast forward to today. Kindergartners often already know their ABCs and have solid counting skills before their first day of school. If they aren’t reading when they begin the school year, they’re certainly expected to be doing so by the end.

New research from the University of Virginia compared kindergarten and first-grade classrooms between 1998 and 2010, and found that kindergarten classes have become increasingly like first grade, with more time spent on academic instruction and, ultimately, higher educational expectations.

To help pre-K kids improve core learning skills and get them excited about school, it’s important to find fun, age-appropriate ways to help them learn. Consider these ideas for preparing kids ages 3 to 6 for kindergarten.

Fine motor skills

Fine motor actions include holding a pencil correctly, tying shoes and sorting small objects. One of the easiest ways to encourage your child’s fine motor development is by providing lots of opportunities to color and write. Make crayons and paper readily available and let his or her imagination take off. When children try to draw a bird or create patterns, they are also preparing themselves for the classroom.

Educational apps

While it’s important to monitor and balance screen time, technology helps educate kids. “Preschool Academy” by IntellectoKids is among many educational apps that help kids learn the alphabet and develop skills like sorting, counting and critical thinking — the foundations for math and reading. When considering apps, look for ones that make learning fun, are free of ads, allow customization and regularly add fresh activities.

Reading

Language is a focus in kindergarten. Make reading a daily activity with your child, including new books and older classics like “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” and “Harold & the Purple Crayon.” Foster a love of books by visiting your local library and bookstore and download digital books, too.

Activities outside the home

Preschools provide introductory education in writing and math, but students also have time to play and learn about the world around them. What’s more, kids learn proper social etiquette and how to follow classroom rules such as sitting still in a seat and raising a hand to ask a question. 

If preschool isn’t possible before school begins, consider signing up your child for a short, educational day camp or join a playgroup. Visit the library for story time, and encourage social interaction with new kids at the playground.

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