Guest writer: Cameron Frazier, Assistant Principal at KIPP Nashville College Prep Elementary School
There are countless moments that stick with you as a parent: your child’s first word, the first time they walk, playing sports, finding their passions, making friends, graduations. One memory along that journey that brings about a mix of emotions is seeing your baby start kindergarten. We hear you – we’ve been there! And we support hundreds of families each year as they walk through this season of life and say goodbye to their students on the first day of their K-12 careers and beyond!
We appreciate you sharing your child’s journey with us and want to do whatever we can before you even enroll to set your family and student up for success.
From my perspective as an educator and as the Assistant Principal at KIPP Nashville College Prep Elementary School, here are the game-changers when it comes to getting you and your student ready for that big first day of kindergarten!
- Practice Counting | Your student will have lots and lots of practice counting and building number sense, but they’ll be able to hit the ground running if they are able to count and identify numbers up to 5 by the first day of school. Once your student starts school, they’ll practice counting daily up to 100 (& above!). To support them, do the same at home! Ideally, we want students to see the number and say it, but if you’re driving or making dinner then just say it out loud with your student. Some resources & ideas include:
YouTube video to practice counting to 30: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lndiN1TO0I8&t=10s
Number flash cards so your student can see AND say their numbers: https://www.worksheetworks.com/math/numbers/numbersflash.html
- Letter and Word Recognition | We’re not only building great mathematicians, but also great readers. One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is to read many books and to read often. Young children become better readers by reading with frequency and being read to by strong readers. As you and your child read books together, ask him/her questions about the characters, events, or facts from the text to support their comprehension. Over the first few weeks of school, your student will get lots of practice at identifying letters and their matching sounds but it’ll kickstart their reading journey if they come to kindergarten with experience and comfort with this skill. As words become more familiar, encourage your child to make sense of the words and sentences they read. Some resources include:
Have your student practice writing his or her name and putting a box around the first and last letter of their name to differentiate between letters and words.
Practice letters with your student! Here’s a video aligned to our phonics curriculum, Fundations, that models letters and their sounds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kbPqHe4u7k
As you’re reading with your student, have them point to each word as you read. This will be a skill that they practice in their first month at school.
- Build Independence | Independence and focus are developmental and not all children develop this skill at the same time. Encourage your student’s independence by helping them find tasks at that help siblings or your family that he or she enjoys, like setting the table, getting dressed, coloring, playing with toys and cleaning up after a meal. For a beginning of year kindergartener, five minutes of independent working would be great and know it’ll grow over the course of the year as your student has daily practice. Some resources include:
Have your student work on a task – it doesn’t have to be academic, although that’d translate easily to school work – independently for an extended period of time. Start with setting a timer for three minutes and put it where your student can see it. If three minutes is still a challenge, set it at two and gradually increase the time as your student successfully works independently for the entire time.
- Know Your School | Know kindergarten has changed drastically over the last 20-plus years, so your child will more than likely have a different kindergarten experience than the one you had. We highly recommend that you take the time to get to know your school, teachers and leaders so you can support your student throughout his/her elementary experience. Some resources & ideas include:
Take some time to tour the school! Myself and Ms. Thomas, our founding School Leader, love to show off the incredible learning happening in classrooms and open the door to families, so take advantage of that and experience the school before summer break.
Talk to your teachers and school leadership if you have questions or want to better understand something. Our school is intentionally built around a cohesive vision, so unleash your curiosity in how things work and why!
- Be Patient & Trust the Process! | Kindergarten can be a challenging transition for both you and your student, but trust the process. Kindergarten is a huge growing year and your student has two loving and talented teachers in his/her room dedicated to making your student their best self. Some resources & ideas include:
Spend one-on-one time with your child and do something special, such as get ice cream or dinner together at the end of a long week!
Keep in touch with your teacher – they’re an ally and supporter in this journey.
Remember the growing moments from this year so you can be extra proud of your student when kindergarten (and high school and college) graduation rolls around.