Let's get one thing straight. I sent my son to preschool and pre-K. He was supposed to learn everything he would need for Kindergarten there. Sure, I'm not talking about a fancy private school. Just plain, old neighborhood public school.
So, why am I still finding things that he should have known before he went to Kindergarten? For instance, he should have known how to write all of his letters and numbers. I assumed he was learning this in preschool or would learn it in Kindergarten. But no. For the first worksheet he brought home from school, he needed to count up different objects and write the number.
That's when I realized pre-K didn't prepare my kid.
Even more humbling, I realized I hadn't prepared him either, though it was my job as the parent. Now we are playing catch up at home on a few key things that I just assumed my son knew.
Which just goes to show, you should never assume.
1. Writing ABCs
Knowing your ABCs is very different from being able to write them. Most children are encouraged to know how to read and write their name before they start Kindergarten. Chances are, your child's name does not have all of the letters of the alphabet in it. Print out worksheets to practice with your child. Work on all uppercase letters or all lowercase letters. Find worksheets on sites like K5Learning.com that have the lines already on the paper, which are similar to the lined paper they will be using in the classroom.
2. Writing 1,2,3s
Just like the ABCs, your child needs to know how to write numbers. When my son came home with his very first homework sheet, and it had math problems on it, I didn't think it would be a problem. My son knew how to count objects with no difficulty. He told me how many were on the sheet, and I told him to write the number. He looked at me like I was insane. He had no idea how to write his numbers. I instantly downloaded worksheets so we could be working on his numbers the first week of school.
3. Sight words
I have always struggled with teaching my son to read. I either don't have the patience or he doesn't have the patience. If you are like me, find yourself a decent app or web program to help your child practice sight words before they start Kindergarten or to reinforce what they are learning during kindergarten. This will give them a little leg up and get them reading sooner than a few of their peers.
4. Wiping his bottom
Yes, this one is gross and obvious, but, truly, we hadn't worked on it very hard until the summer right before Kindergarten. I felt like such a failure that I had taken the lazy way out and just done it for him. The best part of our training was him saying "I don't want to do that mom. It's gross!" And yet he expected ME to do it for him? I found I wasn't the only mom to hit this snag with her kid as they entered Kindergarten. Plenty of us had gotten used to our routine and forgotten that our children should be doing this in preschool. Teachers aren't allowed to wipe them, so if your kids won't do it while at school, no one will.
Thankfully there are plenty of resources out on the web for parents to catch up or help their child excel in Kindergarten. Don't overwhelm your kids with tons of extra work, but do give them the confidence and the tools to get the job done. I've been humbled. Instead of being the mom who expects the teacher to do everything for her child, I'm not taking a more active role, the role I should have taken all along.