Sunday, April 24, 2016

Jump Ropes and Sidewalk Chalk: 5 tips to get your little one ready for Kindergarten

I know what you’re thinking, “I already have 20 educational apps on my phone.  I used ‘My Baby Can Read’ and I speak two languages at home.  My home was baby-proofed and I nursed my baby until they were 2.  I read ten books a day to them and they know many sight words. My child is ready for kindergarten!”  As a kindergarten teacher I can tell you that very few of these things actually get your child ready for kindergarten. 

First off, we are seeing an influx of students struggling with fine motor skills and unable to even hold a pencil or crayon.  This is a direct correlation to the large amount of technology in our children’s hands at a very young age.  Hand them crayons and a coloring page when you sit down at a restaurant or teach them fun games you played when you were little.  Baby-proofing your home is very important when your little one is sticking their fingers in the socket, but as they grow they need to see the connection between behavior/consequence.  If mommy says don’t jump off the couch and I do, I might get hurt.  We can’t be there to catch their every fall. And guess what, they’ll be better for it.  When they come into our classroom, you won’t be there to plan their every step. Will they know what to do without you?  Here are a few tips you can work on over the summer with your little one as you prepare to send them off into an exciting year! 

Go Outside!

Oh the things we can do outside!  The developmental milestones your child accomplishes when they use the very same tools we used as children cannot be learned on an app.  Try some of the following:

·         Sidewalk chalk-great for gross motor and strengthening their arm muscles.

·         Jump rope- oh boy this is a good one! This teaches coordination.  Children that struggle to jump rope, skip and gallop have a harder time with reading.

·         Roller skate-still working on this with my kids.  Teaches great coordination and balance.

·         Playgrounds- I have to get on my soapbox here.  Playgrounds are so important! The equipment there is so fun for the kids and it teaches them, hand over hand (monkey bars), balance (balance beam, stairs) coordination (monkey bars, swings) and creates so many fun, lasting memories. Again, it’s OK TO LET THEM FALL! Of course we don’t want to put a cast on them, but please let them just play!

·         Learn to ride a bike- This teaches coordination, balance and confidence.

·         Sand box/water table- It’s great for their mind, fine motor and sensory exposure. 


Turn off the electronics

The best practice is once or twice a day for no more than 30 minutes for video games, tablets, computers, phones and other electronics.  Maybe one movie.  Then make them get creative! Actually play with the millions of toys they have in their play room. 


Unstructured Play

When every minute of their day is structured, children don’t know what to do with themselves when there is free time. A lot of times this is when we have behavior problems.  They run wild because they don’t normally get to. Some kids need structure to their day even in the summer. So for them, have a loose structure, but let your child just play and imagine on their own time in their own world.  This is when you hear them play things like hide and seek and house.  Let them use the amazing gift they have been given…imagination.

Fine Motor Fun

Before I was a teacher I had no idea what ‘fine motor’ even meant.  In short give them tools that are fun and help build muscle and coordination in their hands.  Crayons, play-doh, pencils, PAINT (yes, I know it’s messy, but let them paint!), hole punchers and whatever they can get their hands on (go down the isles at Staples). 



Even more important than all this fun play-time is learning the importance of responsibility.  It is not child abuse to give your kids chores.  Check out my previous post about Successful Cleaning with Kids.  My kids still beg me to wash the bathtub in their bathing suits. Dish soap, water and vinegar and shaving cream are all safe formulas your kids can use to help you clean. I even pay my little cleaners a couple of quarters on top of the fun they are having.


I’ve attached an exclusive {FREEBIE} to keep your kids moving this summer and for many more to come.  They are all fun screen-free activities that can be done without leaving your driveway.  Print them out and put in a jar or basket. I know your OCD may be going a little berserk, but sometimes we need to let go a little so our kids can really learn and make some great memories.  We look forward to seeing them in kindergarten this fall!
 All in Mommy Love,


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