Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten? Language Skills Is the Key (And Worksheets to Help)

August 10, 2021 by admin

It is a big milestone when children enter kindergarten, and some parents will even list school readiness as a goal. While many preschool programs promote “kindergarten readiness” programs, which combines academic and socio-emotional skills, experts say that language is the key skill that leads to academic and social success.

A recent study published in Early Childhood Research Quarterly found that language skill, out of math, reading, behavior, social skills, cognitive skills and health is the skill that can predict a child’s academic skills and social skills as they continue their education. This is no surprise as we express ourselves to connect and relate to others through language, and language is the tool that help us acquire many other skills. So how can we tap into their natural way of language learning and make these new words stick?

People often think reading and language are the same, but there are some major differences. Reading is the ability to comprehend words and sounds to pronounce words, as well as meanings and contexts of words. Meanwhile, language is the ability to use these words, as well as the grammar and patterns associated with it to communicate in speech and writing. While kindergarten readiness checklists and this explanation seems like a lot, have many resources for parents and teachers to help your child develop this essential skill, while making it fun!

This article will discuss some key language skills that will help your child thrive in the classroom.

Use Words and Sentences Just Slightly Above Your Child’s Level
There are many suggestions about ways to learn language on the internet, from singing songs to pretend play and baby speak. Although these ideas are great, how you engage and talk to your child is what makes the difference. Observe how your child communicates to you, such as making sounds, using single words or combining a few words together. Afterwards, expand on what they do so you can give examples on the next level of language. For example, if your child communicates through sounds, speak and practice simple words, such as sight words and words in a theme, for example, words we use in spring, as well as short sentences to give examples on what happens next.

Building their understanding through their interests and abilities
When we are interested in a topic, we usually say many things about it and the same happens for children. If something catches their attention, they will communicate to you. Observing what they are interested in and responding to their interests enables them to lead the interaction and motivates them to continue to share and talk to you. If your child is only making a few words, you can describe what is happening at the moment. For example, if they see a picture of a hen from a family of words, you can describe “Oh! The hen looks big and tall with the eggs below her!” As they use more words and phrases, you can expand the descriptions or explanations, such as guiding them in sentence making activities and planning their morning work. For example, “You are going to kindergarten today, what are some things you think you will do there?”

 Use Thinking and Feeling Words
Words that express thoughts and feelings can be tricky because they cannot be seen or touched, but they are important words because they lead to conversations, and help children understand the language used in their community, such as school and home. These words enable children to talk about their own thoughts and feelings and what others’ may be thinking and be familiar with the language that teachers use in school. Additionally, as described by “theory of mind”, these words develop children’s ability to see that different people have different wants, feelings and ideas. A great way to introduce children to feelings after teaching them feeling words such as happy, mad or sad would be to share your feelings, for example, “I feel sad that you throw your spoon at your brother today. I think he does too.” You can also teach feelings by discussing what characters feel in a story. Ultimately, their conversations will be longer and have more meaning.

Following Directions
Kindergarten is a new place and have a new routine, so following directions is important for your child in a new place outside their homes – to figure out different places in kindergarten, to be a part of the group, and to listen to the teacher. While the struggle is real, fun games and activities will build this crucial skill. For example, having 2-step direction games, such as drawing flowers next to a library, and color the gas station yellow and red is perfect practice. Once your child is ready for more, you can even introduce map games where your child moves through grids with words such as forwards and backwards.

Make Use of Patterns and Themes
Research shows that children as young as three notices patterns from nouns and verbs. Their ability of finding patterns is very much related to how they learn language conventions. You can repeat key words in sentences to help them notice the patterns, which provides learning opportunities to see how the word is used and the type of word. For example, if you are washing
the dishes, you may use the word “bowl” in the following ways – “Do you want a big bowl or little bowl”, “here is your bowl” “oh, your bowl is dirty, let’s get you a now one.”. Instead of using them intentionally, you want to use the word naturally to help your child understand the patterns and rules of the language. Themed worksheets or worksheets on patterns can further assist children with their ability to identify patterns, and acquire language associated with different themes in everyday life.
However, asking children to repeat may make them feel tested and pressure, which discourages them to speak, especially if they struggle with language.

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