Karen Quinn

Karen’s Hints

Karen’s REAL Hints on Getting Your Child Ready for Kindergarten

As a former education professional, I can’t bear to leave you with only humorous hints for kindergarten success.

One of the questions people used to ask me most often was “what should I be doing now with my toddler so we’ll be ready for kindergarten in a few years?” Below is a list of things you can start doing with your two, three or four-year-old. Your child won’t be ready to do all these things at two or perhaps three. But you can try them out and introduce them when your child is ready. These activities will prepare your child for any test he may have to take to get into a private school. Even if your child is going to a school where she doesn’t need to test her way in, doing these things will get her ready for kindergarten.

• Get Richard Scarry’s Best First Book Ever. It should really be called Richard Scarry’s Best Test Prep Book Ever. If your child genuinely knows everything in this book, he’ll be ready for any test he’ll have to take for kindergarten Ever. This book is a wonderful summary of what a child should know by the time he’s about five. All of Richard Scarry’s other books are excellent teaching tools. Of course, reading as much and as often as you can to your child is one of the best things you can do together.

• Talk to your child all the time about whatever you’re doing. “I’m making a cake. Which bowl should I use for the ingredients?” “Look at that red fire engine that just went by.” Point things out like fruits and vegetables at a store, or the colors of anything you see or what materials things are made of.

• Play a game with your child – How are these things alike? How are a ball and a doll alike? How are a coat and pants alike? How are a banana and an apple alike?

• Get age appropriate workbooks with your child and do them together. There is also some wonderful learning software you and your child can do on the computer. Look for programs that feature characters your child loves (Sesame Street, Disney, etc.)

• Pick up an age appropriate set of Brain Quest cards. Book stores have them. Do these together. This is great for test preparation.

• Play a word definition game with your child – “I’m thinking of something that’s red, round, and crunchy.” “I’m thinking of something that is yellow, sour and has skin?” Have your child give you hints for what she’s thinking of. Playing “I Spy” teaches similar skills – “I spy something soft, white, and on the bed.”

• Always talk to your child about why you are doing what you’re doing. “Let’s put your coat on so you can be warm when we go outside.” “We’re going to the dentist so he can clean your teeth.”

• Teach your child about basic math principles by showing him what “one” looks like (one penny, one apple), “two” (two nickels, two forks), and so on. Lots of kids know how to count to ten but they have no idea what the numbers mean. Once she understands what one, two, and three are, you can show her how adding two pennies and three pennies together make five pennies. I only recommend doing the adding and subtracting if your child seems ready and has to take a test. Otherwise, it will happen in its own time.

• Play with parquetry blocks. Make a design and have your child copy it. Let your child make a design and you copy it.

• Do puzzles with your child. Play dominoes.

• Work with your child on holding a pencil and drawing basic shapes like lines, circles and triangles. If you give your child a very short pencil, it helps him learn the mature pencil grasp. Draw and color with your child at home.

• String beads with your child. You can make a pattern and have her copy it with her beads.

• When your child is ready, do simple origami together.

• Go to the zoo, the park, museums, children’s plays and concerts. Take a boat trip, study the leaves, ride bikes – experience life together.

• Obviously there are a million other activities you can do, but these are some of my favorite things where your child will learn and the two of you will have fun together at the same time. And if your child has to be tested, he or she will be ready.