How to prepare for Kindergarten tends to get parents’ panties in a bundle these days. (Been there, done that!) Can’t say I blame us: Kindergarten now is more like 1st grade when we were growing up. For my CBS Los Angeles ‘Fab Mom on 2’ segment this week, brand new mom and longtime news anchor Suzie Suh and I talked about some of the ‘secret skills’ that Kindergarten teachers need our kids to know how to do before the big first day — you know, the stuff they all need to know how to do that goes outside of letter recognition, holding a pencil, counting. Here’s a hint: They need to know about TOILET PAPER. You think I’m kidding? WATCH:
Told you I wasn’t kidding. Hey, everything we talked about on air came straight from the women and men who teach our kids every day. (God bless them. Forever.) Some favorite tips of mine:
- Capability with simple tasks. A 5-year-old who is developmentally on track should be capable of zipping and unzipping his or her own backpack, opening food containers and snack items, effectively putting away items and cleaning up when asked and putting on their own jacket.
- Potty manners. Children should obviously be potty trained by the time kindergarten comes, but restroom manners like washing hands with soap, flushing the toilet, pulling up and buttoning their own pants and putting a dirty paper towel in the trash can are expected. Five-year-olds should also know how to blow their nose into tissues (ie: not pick their nose).
- Self-control. The No. 1 issue teachers cite as problematic in a classroom is a child who does not know how to listen to authority or control themselves (I mean, most 5 year olds tend to flail when they get frustrated), but don’t be afraid to get them learning about regulating emotions. As summer winds down, start conditioning kids to sit still for a bit, listen to adults when someone says no and be respectful of others. Licensed marriage and family therapist Nora Chitilian offers a few simple techniques: “Encouraging them to take a deep breath, in and out, to think of a happy event like Disneyland, a pool party, and to hold onto that happy feeling,” Chitilian suggests. Teaching habits like this in everyday life can quickly become a child’s go-to tool for coping.
A child’s academic and social reputation starts in kindergarten can follow them through elementary school. Help our teachers by covering these bases at home; their job is tough enough already. For more info and check out the full piece on CBSLA here.
So yeah, counting and writing and sounding out letters are necessary and always appreciated, but the unconventional requests above (and, more frank-talking ones here) help our teachers BIG TIME. I mean, they’ve all got enough issues to contend with these days… which unfortunately does take away from their ability to teach and kids’ ability to learn. Whether we admit it or not, teachers spend about as much time with our kids as we do… except they’ve got 20-30 to contend with at one time. I challenge you to try that. (I’m not sure I could do it…)
HELP. TEACHERS. OUT. So they can do their jobs and teach our kids. Because one kid can ruin it for the rest. (That’s my opinion on the record there…) If you need me, I’ll be running tutorials about how to open applesauce containers in my kitchen…
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