Lessons from a Kindergarten Teacher
The inspiring Mister Rogers once said, “The most important people in a child’s life are that child’s parents and teachers. That means parents and teachers are the most important people in the world.” Teachers spend eight plus hours a day Monday through Friday surrounded by children. As a Kindergarten teacher for the past nine years, I can honestly say that I love what I do. Every school day is a new adventure and there is never a dull moment. Teaching kindergarten, for some, can be described as insane. We start off the school year with “babies” and help mold them into “little people” by the time they leave at the end of the school year. In the classroom, not only do I teach what is expected of the curriculum, but I teach subjects not on the curriculum. These topics include: sharing, interpersonal skills, communication skills, and helping them become self-confident. As a parent, when your child is age ready to enter kindergarten, what are some things that can help make their kindergarten year successful?
Kindergarten is where the foundation is laid for a child’s academic success. So much is tied into just one academic school year. One of the most important ways parents can help their child become ready for success in kindergarten is by working on your child’s ability to identify and recognize their first name. I know this may sound silly, but believe me when I say that some children enter kindergarten on the first day of school not being able to identify what their name is. Parents, or other family members, may call their child by another name or a nickname at home, but for teachers in school, it is important to not only have your child recognize their name when called upon, but also to have your child be able to say their name when asked “What is your name?”
Another way in which parents can help their child become ready for success in kindergarten is by building up fine motor skills. Yes, a lot of what we do at the beginning of the school year helps build your child’s fine motor skills. But there are definitely areas in which parents can help their child build upon their fine motor skills. Children learn best through play. Playing with Play-Doh, blocks, using scissors to help practice cutting, and coloring are some of the fine motor activities you can do at home to help your child. Learning while playing is the best form of teaching because your child will be so engrossed in the fun that they will miss the part where you are teaching them new skills. Having your child attend a Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Education Program, or VPK for short, will help your child build upon these fine motor skills as well as help them to develop their social skills by interacting with their peers daily.
Lastly, parents can help their child become ready for success in kindergarten by believing in them. When your child enters kindergarten, they are roughly five years old. It is difficult for parents to realize that their baby is growing up faster than they would like. Children feed off of knowing that their parents are proud of them. When they hear a compliment or praise, it boosts their self-confidence and they become eager to learn and share with their teachers what their parents told them at home. In my classroom, I share with each and every one of my students how proud I am of them daily, even if a student is having a hard day. Additionally, parents can tell their child at home just how proud they are and vocalize why they are so proud of them. By doing this, you will see that your child will be happier in their own skin and become confident in themselves to help build up their intrapersonal skills.
In closing, kindergarten is such an important year in your child’s life. It is the year where their love of learning flourishes, where they grow and change, become more independent, and they learn life-long skills such as sharing, communicating, and grow into becoming more self-confident individuals. They become communicators at expressing their feelings, taking their time and believing in themselves. It is extra important for parents to communicate and work together with your child’s teacher in order to help your child succeed not only in kindergarten, but throughout the rest of their academic years.