With another school year over and summer vacation in full swing, the last thing on a parent's mind is school shopping or the first day of the next school year.
But if you have a 5-year-old getting ready to start kindergarten, this is the perfect time to make a checklist of the top 10 skills that will give your child a huge head start before fall.
Kindergarten isn't all about sculpting playdough, coloring and using scissors. It's a tightly scheduled rotation from a home classroom to other classes such as music, reading, computers, library and math or social skills development (sometimes called the Play Room). It's enough to make an adult's head spin, much less a 5-year-old's.
The following are the top 10 most crucial skills a child should have when starting kindergarten, not just for success academically, but socially and emotionally helpful, too. If you can check off these 10 skills taken from kindergarten teachers around the Rogue Valley, your child will be more than ready for his or her first day of school.
1) Know their ABCs and be able to recognize and name most if not all the letters in the alphabet. It would also be helpful if they could write their own name as well.
2) Know how to count from one to 10 and recognize those numbers.
3) Know basic colors of orange, red, pink, yellow, blue, purple, green, brown, black, gray and white.
4) Know the basic shapes of a rectangle, square, circle, triangle, oval and diamond.
5) Knowledge of basic school rules — be safe, respectful and responsible. Your child should understand that their teacher will expect them to be able to walk in a line, not talk or play when he or she is instructing, and be able to follow simple directions. Teachers expect to have to redirect kids and give plenty of reminders for the first few months, but giving your child a head's up about what's coming and what's expected goes a long way towards a smooth adjustment.
6) Be potty trained. You won't get a call to come pick your child up if an accident does happen, but a change of clothes should be kept in the backpack if you think your child might have one. Accidents happen at school, so don't be alarmed if your child has one. With all the new activities, it's easy to get distracted from using the bathroom.
7) Playground rules: Kindergarteners will learn all the specific rules for the playground once school starts, but knowing the basics and getting them in the habit of following them helps tremendously. Kids are not allowed to swing sideways or twirl around out of control. No jumping out of swings, either. Slides are fun, but not when you get a time-out for walking up them, going down them on your stomach or jumping off the top platform to the ground. Parents must think safety first here, and remind kids they won't be allowed to do it at school.
8) Can your kindergartener tie his or her own shoes? It's not an easy skill to master and this one may be more out of mercy for the teachers. Many a kindergarten teacher has wished they had a dime for every shoe they've tied.
9) Basic cutting skills with scissors. To help your child master this, teach them to turn the paper instead of the scissors. It's easier on their hands and wrists and helps them stay on lines much better.
10) Kindergarteners find themselves making lunch choices for themselves they didn't have to make before. Knowledge of healthy foods you'd like them to eat each day will help them put some broccoli on their lunch tray and skip the cookie. Teach them to take what they can eat and no more. Piling on salad and throwing it all away wastes food for everyone, so teaching proportions now will help your child when it comes time to serving him or herself.
As a parent, you may not be ready to accept that five years have passed and your toddler has grown into a kindergartener. But your child will be more than ready to start school if you can check these basic skills off the list. Plus, you get the satisfaction of knowing you did your best to prepare your child for another milestone and a rewarding first year at school.