Following Directions: Children need to be able to follow simple directions at school. Try to play games with your child that require following directions. “Simon says” or “Mother May I” are old favorites, but you can make a game out of following directions through your bedtime routine or anything you do at home. Challenge your child by giving 2 or 3 step directions when he has mastered simple directions, like, bring your plate to the sink, throw out your trash and then wash your hands.
Make a game of following directions. Tell your child that you will give her some “jobs” to do, then give her a set of directions. Praise your child for following all of the directions. If your child struggled with the directions, break them down into step-by-step directions and help her do each one. Children often listen better when you vary the volume of your voice. Whisper directions to make sure your child is listening closely.
Personal Information: Kindergarten may be the first time that your child is without you. It is important to prepare for that situation by making sure that your child knows all important information about himself and your family. Your child should be able to state his first and last name, tell if he is a boy or a girl and tell his parents names. Once your child has mastered these, you will want to work on your phone number and address.
Whenever the opportunity arises for you to say your child’s name, let your child do it. When checking in at the doctor, picking up prescriptions, or checking out library books, encourage your child to do this himself. Often kids know this information, but are shy to talk with others. Tell your child that he will be responsible for the “big kid job” of saying his first and last name whenever anyone asks. Your child may need a little more help in the beginning, but he will soon become comfortable with practice.
Assertiveness: Just as you will teach your child how to make friends, it is important to talk about what to do when your child needs to stand up for himself. Talk with your child about what situations should be reported to the teacher and what he/she should say if a friend is doing something that bothers your child. Teaching your child “I” statements can help with this. If someone is bothering your child he can say, “I don’t like it when you_____. When you ___ , I feel _____(sad, upset, angry). Please don’t _____ again.”
If something makes you feel sad, angry, frustrated or upset, let your child hear you say this and model the talk described above. Make sure these situations are appropriate for your children. If your child hits, model how to use the “I statements,” while telling your child how that behavior makes you feel. You can also model “I statements” with a dog that gets into trouble.
Separation: Separating from a parent can be difficult for children, especially if they have spent much of their pre-k life with a parent. The best way to help your child with this is to provide opportunities for him to be away from you. You will want to start with small amounts of time and gradually increase the amount of time away from you depending on your child’s progress.
If your child is very used to having you right there with him all of the time, you can start by having an “on my own” time each day. You would explain to your child that this is a time for him to play a game, read a book, draw a picture, etc. all by himself. You should go to another room to encourage your child to remain on his own. Talk with your child about this time and set a timer so everyone knows when the time is over. If your child is ready and able to separate, but just hasn’t had the opportunity, you may want to look into a class, preschool or playgroup that you are not involved in. This would be an opportunity for you to drop off your child so he will need to separate from you.