“Nope, not going to happen” was my consistent response to my husband when he put homeschooling on the table. He always reminded me that I have a Masters of Science in Education, and I would remind him of my spastic organizational skills. Privatized education, at-home learning, and the public education system; we explored them all, landing on the path we both walked as kids, public school.
I have escorted three of my children through the doors of elementary school, and left them for hours. With my oldest two it was only for two hours and 45 minutes. But this year I sent my five-year-old darling away for the whole day. For the 2015-16 school year, Oregon joined a slew of other states implementing full-day kindergarten, and it touts a banquet of benefits. There is more routine, better opportunity for social development, and longer instruction time for to the newest generation entering academia.
Our children are still learning to brush their hair, but we are asked to send them away for the entire day. Are they ready? Here are some tips from the trenches, and some recommendations from the lovely woman who spends 6 hours a day, 5 days a week with my daughter; one of your very own Oregon full-day kindergarten teachers.
Wean Your Would-be Kindergartner From Naps
Trust me, I begrudgingly enforced this last summer, but I can’t imagine how my daughter would have done in full-day kindergarten if I hadn’t. She was falling asleep when she got home into October, and once she even fell asleep in class. I told her she doesn’t need to be embarrassed, but we need to stay awake to learn. I empathize, and tell her it used to happen to me all the time. I just don’t let her know I was in high school.
Count All the Things! At least up to 20
1…2…3…apples, books, or people in line in front of us. You can practice this skill virtually anywhere. Equipping your emerging learner with the skill of counting to 20 will have them ready to take on the world of mathematics.
Shape Recognition: A Precursor to Geometry
Don’t forget the shapes. They show up all around us for help. What shape is the table at home? The plates at the restaurant, or the signs on the road? You see where I am going with this. There are also a slew of educational videos available for streaming covering shapes, ABCs, numbers, and more. Sit and watch them excitedly with your child. If you are excited about learning, they will be too.
That’s My Name, Don’t Wear it Out
Does your child know how to spell his or her name? Still learning letters? Their name is the perfect place to start. They already love it. Don’t forget to have them write it as well. Writing can be a tricky skill, but the more practice they get, the stronger those small motor skills will be.
Can You Tell Me a Story?
Engage in intentional conversations with your child. This means phone down, eye-to-eye discussion. The art of interpersonal communication and conversational etiquette is on the decline, but future generations need it. Sit down and read to them. Teach them the art of the story. Ask them to tell you about their day, and inquire about details. These tips will help them learn to love reading, and increase their verbal abilities. Not to mention their attention spans.
In my more dramatic moments, the morning routine has felt like the bane of my existence. Since my daughter has been more sleepy this year because of full-day kindergarten, getting her out of bed has become a battle. Have them practice the morning routine; lay clothes out the night before, and keep in mind that this may take a while to get down.
Extra Credit: Teach Those Letters and Their Sounds
Teaching your child prereading skills can be easier than you think. Show them how to identify the upper and lower case letters, teach them the sounds, and then attempt blending the sounds. Need more help with the sounds? Who Let The Letters Out by Dr. Jean was always a hit with my kids. I apologize in advance if this replays in your head relentlessly, but it works wonders.
I hope you enjoy the time of preparation you have with your kiddo. It’s unique, it’s precious, and it’s worth it! Let’s send them off well, and partner with our teachers in helping them succeed as they pursue an education. If that doesn’t inspire you, remember they may be choosing your retirement center.