I looked at several tests for kindergarten readiness and found these common skills. Let’s look at what’s needed to teach these academic goals.
1) Color naming: Talk about colors throughout the day. There is no need for special curriculum or materials here, although good quality crayons, markers and other art supplies are nice.
2) Number concepts such as more than/less than, bigger/smaller shorter/taller: Talk about these throughout the day. Read some of the Dr. Seuss early readers, or give a kid a cookie : ) Kids get this. His cookie is bigger, he has more than me. There is no need for workbooks or materials for this.
3) Discrimination of form; recognizes shapes and some letters such as the ones in his name: You may already have a shape sorter or shapes puzzle, but they are not really needed. Cut sandwiches and other foods into squares, rectangles and triangles. Slice apples and oranges across to make circles. Play do you see a circle shape in this room. I love rubber ABC puzzles as they can be used in so many ways, but there are many other tools. Dollar stores often have wooden ABC puzzles or flash cards, especially at back to school time. If you go in with a tight budget dollar stores can save money. Another option is just you and a marker forming letters on a sheet of paper and talking about it. This says Sam, this is the way we write your name.
4) Symbol matching, counting, matching one to one: Again, you can do this with anything. Match blocks, count spoons or cups for dinner. Count how many jumps, how many steps. Pull out old family games and make the rules as simple as possible. Sorry is a great one for recognizing numerals and matching moves. Sometimes there are dominos at the dollar store or in the Target dollar bins; for preschool simply match two ends.
5) Speaking vocabulary: LISTEN! this is the most important thing you can do. Have patience while your child tries to recall words he needs to express himself.
6) Listening vocabulary: Read aloud often. Reread favorite books. Collect authors. Collect illustrators. Collect classics. A book such as Honey for a Child’s Heart will help with ideas for what to read.
7) Traces line, cuts with scissors: These fine motor skills are easily learned with construction paper, or whatever is available to you. Make broad lines with markers, first straight then slowly becoming more complex. Your child can trace or cut the lines. Find decent scissors for this that actually cut. Make sure to supervise : )
8) Skip and hop on one foot: skipping is usually a five-year-old skill so do not get too worried about it. Challenge your children to copy you hopping, jumping, running, walking like a bear or a cat or a duck.
9) Catch and bounce medium size ball: There are many theories about the best kind of ball. You choose!
So, this is your shopping list: ABCs puzzle or flashcards, or just some paper. Construction paper, scissors and pencils. Crayons and markers. A ball. You do not need much else. So….
The fun part, what do you want? Think about Bible, music, books, art, outdoor play and science. My four-year-old loved the balance scale we gave him for his birthday. My four-year-old grandson loved his big wall map. Paints are fun. Make lists and share them with grandparents and others who like to give gifts. Have fun learning and playing together.