Practice! Practice! Practice!
Kindergarten is not what it used to be! The curriculum and the expectations for your 5 year old has changed!
Your "soon to be kindergartner" will be expected to identify their colors, shapes, numbers and letters. Your kindergartner will also be expected to draw simple shapes, color within the lines, cut with scissors and be able to write their first and last name! By the end of kindergarten your child will be writing sentences with correct letter formation and spatial organization. Your child will even know how to read many sight words!
A typical child’s growth and development continues to remain fixed and is somewhat standardized. Children all over the world reach their developmental milestones within a specific time frame. For example, typical children sit up unsupported, at 7-8 months, crawl on hands and knees at 9-10 months and , stand alone at 11-12 months.
As parents and caregivers, we can’t teach a child to physically grow but we can provide opportunities for a progression of development.
As a school based occupational therapist, guiding a child’s development in a safe and fun environment is key. Learning can be fun and seamlessly natural. A new experience is an opportunity for growth and development. A new experience practiced is an opportunity for mastery of that skill.
Some of the core subjects taught in school are reading, writing and arithmetic. However, there are so many other underlying skills that are needed for a successful school experience. Students have to be able to sit upright with good posture at their desk. They also have to be able to grasp their crayons, pencils and classroom tools with adequate strength and dexterity.
Paying attention, following directions, displaying good manners and good interpersonal relationships are also another set of skills needed in school. All of these skills are addressed daily in school but there are a set of ‘forgotten’ skills that have been lacking and underdeveloped. Self care skills! The skills we need to take care of our self and our daily living activities.
Self care skills are often overlooked but very much needed to help kindergartners ease into their classroom routine. Skills such as : packing/unpacking a backpack, taking off/putting on jackets, washing/drying hands, opening a juice box and Ziploc bags. Fastening buttons, snaps and being able to zipper a zipper are also skills that can be practiced at home to help a child gain more independence with their everyday self care skills.
As parents and caregivers we may not be able to keep up with the changing school curriculum. We can, however, guide and encourage our child’s development by incorporating opportunities daily, to practice self-care skills! The more we encourage and reinforce these skills the more independent and prepared our child will be. During our child’s early years, every step was a celebration just waiting to happen. Today we can guide our children towards a wonderful transition into their formative school years.