How to prepare 5 y/o for kindergarten?

Julie - posted on 06/12/2011 ( 16 moms have responded )

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I have a step-daughter who turned 5 in March and she will be starting Kindergarten in September. Her mother's #1 priority in life has never been her children and therefore her & her sister have suffered the consequences in more ways than one. She can only sing her ABCs and only recognizes the 1st letter of her name. I'm concerned she is not ready for Kindergarten. We are in the middle of a lengthy court battle for custody and now have joint custody of her and her sister. We are trying to prepare her academically the best we can but need some pointers! We have to keep correcting the way she holds her pencil, for starters. And we have some Preschool/Kindergarten activity books for her, but she can't stay focused long enough to get through the activities for 2 letters! If she doesn't want to do something, no reward, loss of privileges or bribery will help change her tune. Any other approaches we can take or activities to do with her??

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Nana - posted on 06/14/2011

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I have had the chance to work with a few children. One of them could not even say his name properly when he 4 and a half. Now he's soon to be 6 and i'm amazed at the rate at which he reads and goes about his school work. What i'll suggest is, let her go to kindergarten and when she sees other children learning, she'll be interested and before u realize, she'll be going at their pace. I know it's frustrating but u will soon be rewarded.

Good luck with everything.

Klara - posted on 06/14/2011

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Can be hard, but try to use lots of praise, be consistent, so she knows its expected every day, maybe the same time everyday (if possible). My youngest has serious issues with attention, and we HAVE to decrease ALL other distractions like tv, radio, computer, extra people around, for her to do her work (she is 6 now and just finished kindergarten). Knowing letters, counting to at least 10, preferably 100, and writing name would be the most important. Any phonics you can work on, and increasing her attention span (maybe increase work time a couple minutes a day or week) will help her immensely. Some kids focus better after exercise, and other better without (seems to rev them up). Whichever works best for her, I'd go with it. One other thing we did, was teach my daughter to play short card or board games, so she got use to finishing what she started, and still had fun. She also learned she is not always going to win. Good luck to you! Sounds like a stressful situation for everyone. Nice you are willing to help your step daughter!

Alison - posted on 06/13/2011

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my 3 1/2 year old loves her letter and number fridge magnets and also does well with dry-erase flashcards and workbooks. You could print out letters and pictures and let her cut them out with safety scissors while you tell her what they are. Just make it fun.

Mimi - posted on 06/13/2011

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I'm having the same problem with my nephew. We've been working on letters and numbers outside with sidewalk chalk and finger paint. It can be a little messy but at least it holds his attention.

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Schmoopy - posted on 06/29/2011

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Julie, the lack of eye contact and focus, and "not hearing" a word you say - talking about a totally different topic from what you're addressing. These all sound like autistic traits to me. Have you had her evaluated?

Debby - posted on 06/28/2011

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Call your district and set up an evaluation: they likely have a developmental Kindergarten or a Pre-K...Quote PL94-142 to get the evaluation! (PL= Public Law)!
She doesn't sound ready --but that doesn't mean stagnant!
You may be expecting longer focus than she can give. So leave the books and use fridge magnets (anyone she picks up), songs while playing, letter/color/shape hide & seek (find a____) and best of all: a ton of shaving cream! In the tub, on the table, patio!!!
Her skills don't surprise me--had students of all kinds, but the attention span indicates she is a 'young five'. She may soar with eagles though! My own son's Pre-K teacher was going to hold him back 'because he didn't know his numbers'...that day he READ a had printed sign on the road "For mow (the ing was broken off) Call # ! He's been on the Honor Roll and Dean's list ever since!
BTW, did I mention I am a retired Kindergarten teacher- 18 years?!?!

Anne - posted on 06/28/2011

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Maybe you should send her back to pre-K for one year. It might be better, even if she is the oldest, but at least she won't be so frustrated when she realizes that she is not up to speed with the other kids in kindergarten.
We are currently considering holding out son back a year. He has the attention span of a sand flea and is not interested in academics. So we think he needs to mature another year.

Julie - posted on 06/27/2011

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Wow, I got no notifications or email letting me know anyone responded to my post! Thank you everyone! My biggest problem with her is her lack of motivation and attention. She is off in la-la land all the time. When writing, eating, bathing, dressing, brushing her teeth, etc she is always in some other world. She will show a little interest but then stares off into space, chewing on whatever she is holding. I will be talking to her or explaining something to her and she won't hold my eye contact, looks around the room everywhere but my face while spinning on a foot or twirling her skirt. Sometimes she will say something completely off topic so I know she didn't hear a word I said. There is no way she has the attention or dexterity to use a computer mouse & keyboard. We have limited income so we cannot afford to put her in preschool. Her mom had her at one while she worked, but I was not pleased at all with what separated them from being a daycare! Plus her mom didn't take her on a regular basis & then didn't pay the co-pay so now she can't go back. There are some great ideas listed that I will def try but her lack of attention is going to make them all difficult. I've tried painting & coloring with her & she just scribbles & smashes & slams pencils, crayons, chalk, paintbrushes into the paper, books, sidewalk, etc. I try to read her stories but she's off in la-la land after 2-3 pages. @ Jane, just reading your post about the sandpaper gave me the heebie-jeebies! Cutting sandpaper...ugghhh that's like nails on a chalkboard! I HATE sandpaper!! LOL Another HUGE PROB - her going to her mom's for a whole week & doing absolutely nothing. Her mom WILL insist on her starting Kindergarten because school is free daycare. =/ But perhaps that will kick-start her interest to interact with her peers and do what they are doing. And if she hasn't caught up by the end of the year, I'm sure the school will recommend holding her back. My oldest son is now 14 and has ADHD & an ASD and I was still able to get him to focus long enough to learn the things he needed to know. This is new and frustrating water to me! Thanks again everyone!! :)

Brandy - posted on 06/23/2011

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I would do preschool in a box from the learning box..I'm not sure where you are, but here there are kids who don't know the alphabet or all of their colors entering kinder... they all manage to get to the same place by the end of the year :) don't worry, she will be fine!

Any work you do with her needs to be fun and short in duration, you don't want her hating school before she gets there! Good Luck!

Angela - posted on 06/20/2011

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All great post and ideas listed. I agree send her and let her see what others kids are doing and she will get the hang of it but also continue to work with her at home.

Jane - posted on 06/13/2011

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We made an alphabet coloring book for my son with each letter represented by a piece of construction equipment, since that was what he loved above all else. We worked on numbers also by using Skittles, which he also loved.

We also bought things for him that had his name on them so he saw it a lot. We did the same for his sister. There are several sites that sell personalized items for kids. We used Lillian Vernon/Lilly's Kids ( www.lillianvernon.com ) to get small backpacks, pencils, wooden puzzles, towels, and other things personalized with their first names on them.

You could even do what my ex-SIL did - she custom painted her daughters' room and furniture with cute critters with their names written next to them. One girl liked cats and the other horses, so there were lots of both, all with names they could sound out.

Also, in Montessori classrooms they cut the numbers and letters out of fine grit sandpaper so the kids can trace and feel them, and get them into their heads easier.

Whatever you do at home, it should be fun and a game, not "school."

You might also consider whether she is ready for Kinder. Not everyone is. My son was not and neither is my grandniece, who is being raised by her grandfather, my brother, but spends some time with her father. My son spent an extra year in a private school that had mixed age classrooms so he was with kids ages 3,4, and 5. My grandniece went to public kinder and was signed up for tutoring in the summer, but she is going to repeat kinder because her birth father never got her to the tutoring sessions.

You might consider a private half-day pre-school for the year to get her into the rhythm of going to school and to have her exposed to the things kindergartners are expected to know. These include more than knowing the alphabet. These days kindergartners need to know how to walk in a line, sit when and where the teacher says, know how to raise their hands, put things in their cubbies, know how to share, and other social activities.

If she does have to repeat kinder it is certainly better than if she has to repeat 9th or 190th grade.

Schmoopy - posted on 06/13/2011

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Julie, she may not be ready for Kindy. Would it be the worst thing to keep her out her Kindy year? School isn't mandatory until 1st Grade anyway. You could spend the next year working with her at her own pace in a quiet, calm environment.

She's going to need a great deal of support and a strong sense of rhythm to her days to help her heal from what sounds like a lot of chaos. I would keep her home and let her regain her emotional footing before shoving her into a rigorous academic environment she likely isn't ready for.

Ai Lian - posted on 06/13/2011

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If she likes to be on the computer, you can try phonic sites starfall.com. You can try to capitalize on her interests too. Does she like Barbie, princesses, horses etc.... Get books on that topic and read a lot to her. Pick out simple words like "the", "and", "is" (high frequency words) and write them on a card and paste them on the wall. How does she learn best? If she doesn't like writing, maybe she learns better through songs, art and craft. Maybe you could do the story on the letter "s". Something like Sammy the snake likes to sing sillly songs. Get her to create the story with you. Write it down and have her write in all the letter "S" in that story.
These are just some ideas going through my head now. Hope it helps and good luck.

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