By Haily Graham

Starting any learning program or pre-school is a big transition for a child. They will discover how to socialize with others, learn appropriate behavior in the classroom setting, how to handle various situations and responsibility along with the academic basics. The skills learned will help them with their critical thinking and cognitive development which will be needed for school and throughout life. The following five vital skills are needed prior to Kindergarten to help set them up for success.

Language and Social Skills: 
Before entering kindergarten, children should know how to speak clearly in complete sentences, follow single and multi-step directions. In addition, they should know how to share materials and toys with other children and be confident and ready to separate from the parent.

Parent Tip: You can help build these skills by talking with your child and carving out time everyday to read to them for at least 5-10 minutes. Encourage your child to observe and talk about their experiences daily. Give your child opportunities to play with others (in preschool or play dates) and share your expectations with them along with fair rules and limits.

Independent Physical Skills:
Before transitioning to Kindergarten, children should be able to go to the bathroom and wash their hands on their own. In addition, they should be able to dress themselves (including buttoning a shirt or buckling a belt). They should also be able to skip, jump, catch a ball, walk on a line or hop on one leg.

Parent Tip: You can help build these skills by encouraging them to dress themselves when possible and playing physical games with him/her such as catch, tag, and “Simon Says”.

Number Skills:
Prior to entering Kindergarten, children should be able to count to at least thirty and tell what number comes before or after the number 20. They should recognize numbers and be able to compare small groups of items.

Parent Tip: You can help build these skills by encouraging your child to count items in your home and to help with number related tasks. Allow your child to help you cook in the kitchen which is fun and helps them understand measurements (such as ½ a cup, 2 teaspoons.) Use numbers to count how many cookies he/she is eating and how many toys you pick up during clean up time. You can also play counting games in the car such as counting the number of red stop signs you pass or say let’s count how many fingers are in the car.

Science Skills:
In preschool, children begin to ask many questions such as “why” and “how” things happen. They like to ask about the world around them and do experiments to make connections about how things work.

Parent Tip: You can help build these skills by going to interesting places such as the beach, park, zoo, airport, farm or lake and point out the ways things happen. Perform simple science experiments at home with them and encourage them to experiment on their own and mix things together while praising their curiosity, knowing that from mistakes comes learning and confidence.

Writing & Art Skills:
Children should be able to write their first name with Upper and lowercase letters. To prepare for kindergarten, preschoolers use crayons, markers, pencils, scissors, trace, participate in pre-writing worksheets, scribble and draw.

Parent Tip: You can help build these skills by showing them the appropriate three-finger grasp when using writing instruments, provide them plenty of paper, pencils, crayons and other materials. Be sure to praise them for their efforts and display their work around the house which gives them a confidence boost.

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