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Moving from pre-K to kindergarten can be a scary thing for young students. The shift to going to a school with kids up to 11 years old may prove overwhelming to young learners. But there are a few simple steps you can take as a parent to ensure your 5-year-old is ready to take on the new world of kindergarten.
Louistine Carter, a pre-K teacher at Atlanta’s ABC Early Learning Academy who is known as Ms. Joy, told Atlanta Black Star July 24 about five key things children — not kids, she emphasizes — should learn before starting elementary school.
Knowing How to Tie Their Shoes
While parents could easily give their kids slip-on or velcro shoes, Ms. Joy says it’s important that children are able to tie their own shoes for one simple reason.
“It’s a safety precaution,” said Ms. Joy, who has been a teacher for a total of 32 years. “The kindergarten teacher has other things she’s got to deal with. She’s not going to be able to tie everybody’s shoes, so that’s something the parents need to do from home.”
Joy explained parents can do so by getting a booklet, making it a game or simply singing this song.
“Number 1, we get your shoes out, number 2 we hold in this hand, cross it over, bring it under,” she sang.
Properly Holding a Pencil
Ms. Joy noted that one or two of her students will leave pre-K gripping a pencil tightly at the point, but she said holding it the right way is important for developing penmanship and legible writing.
“Penmanship and the proper way of holding that pencil is important,” she said. “Sit at the table with your children, take time to see how they’re writing, how they’re holding a pencil. … There’s a proper way to hold a pencil: use your thumb and your index finger.”
Correctly Cutting Out Objects
Ms. Joy said cutting paper is crucial to learning fine motor skills. In fact, she said the ability to cut using scissors is the number one problem her students deal with.
“Children should be able to build blocks or maybe play with Play-Doh to promote fine motor skills and strengthening their ability to move their fingers in a way that they’ll be able to cut,” the instructor stated. “Cutting, I find, is the number one issue in a pre-K classroom.”
To help with those skills, Ms. Joy suggests parents go to the store and get the sales paper and trace a line in a black marker around an image, like a toy, that their 5-year-old can cut. She noted they should practice cutting out lines of varying directions and shapes.
“Let them cut, cut, cut,” she said.
Opening Milk Cartons
Being able to open a milk carton is something parents may overlook because at home, they simply pour the beverage for their children. But, Ms. Joy emphasized that teachers won’t have time in kindergarten to go around and help every single student open their milk.
“They’re gonna need to be able to open up their milk, or they’re not gonna get any milk that day,” she said. “That’s the way it’s gonna be.”
Ms. Joy suggested parents go to a restaurant where such small cartons are sold, like McDonald’s, and putting the milk in another jar for later consumption.
“Just practice, practice, practice,” she said. “Buy five cartons, spend five dollars. … If you need to, glue it back together and let ’em practice again.”
Developing Social Skills
Ms. Joy said it’s important for children to develop social skills so they can relate and hold conversations with their classmates and teachers.
“There are some children we have to understand, also, that are not gonna be social,” she explained. “But most of them should be able to have a conversation with you, to express themselves in some kind of way to each other — if not, to the teacher.”
She also emphasized that the foundation for developing those skills is in the home.
“Everything they do and they say, it still comes from home,” Ms. Joy stated. “Teachers cannot do everything. Parents have got to take on 75 percent of the responsibility.”
The city of Atlanta resumes classes for fall 2019 on August 12.