This question is one of the most asked question we get as a preschool. Our first job is to follow the Texas Essential Knowledge of Skills (TEKS) for guidelines. http://tea.texas.gov/pkg.aspx This will provide you with a comprehensive list of all the skills that are expected of your child when entering Kindergarten.
Don’t panic if your child does not know EVERY single item on the skills list! Don’t start drilling and tutoring! Your child is just 5. Childhood is all too often rushed or passed by because of worry that ‘my child will not do well or know enough’. Rushing and drilling will not improve the situation, it will only hinder it or worse, your child might develop a dislike for school and learning before he/she even starts. It’s a lot like potty training, your child will progress when he/she is ready, you can’t force it.
The answer, make it fun!! Make learning so much fun, your child will not know they are learning! Make it messy, that’s even better! Google, Pinterest, Lakeshore Learning and other teacher supply stores, there are so many resources available!
The next question is always the social/emotional question. Is my child ready socially and emotionally? This is the million-dollar question! Again, something and the main thing that can’t be rushed. When we are deciding where to place kiddos in our program, we look at the whole child and also consider what it might be like to be 17 or 18 graduating from high school and headed to college. Some people laugh at that consideration while it is so far away, but it’s worth a look! The tag line we hear a lot is “When in doubt, hold them out”. That’s not a bad tag line, but ultimately you have to decide what is best for your child. We are lucky to live in an area with excellent schools, teachers and administrators. If you have any doubts, schedule an appointment with your school’s counselor. Take in samples of your child’s work and discuss what is best for your child.
A good place to start is to focus on letters and numbers. Practice alphabet letters out of order. A child singing the alphabet perfectly may not “know” the letters. Ask your child the letter names (upper and lower case) and the sound the letter makes. Count objects, not just rote counting. Your child needs to be able to write his/her name correctly. Upper case letter at the beginning then lower case letters. (example: Debbie) These are just a few items to start with. Take a look at the skills list and see where your child is. Most districts have a Kindergarten open house. If that event has passed, ask the Kindergarten team or front office at your school for information from those meetings. Some programs will be outlined and you will know what to expect.
Good Luck and remember, enjoy your child at every stage. Don’t rush to the next stage to then rush to the next stage and the cycle begins. Slow down, let your child develop naturally and successfully.