* Thanks to Teacher Created Resources, Lipper International, Kumon Publishing, Singapore Math, ABCmouse, the Eric Carle Museum, and Veritas Press for sending us school products to try.
Our third daughter will be heading to Kindergarten this fall.
With a spring birthday, she'll likely be on the younger side of her class - but she is definitely ready. She is obedient, kind, and eager to learn. She can cut with scissors, color in the lines, identify almost all of the uppercase letters and numbers (0-10), identify many of the lowercase letters, write her first name in capitals, write the alphabet in uppercase (A-Z), name all of the colors, and pinpoint beginning sounds for some of the letters.
We spent very little time on academics this past year (I believe in hefty doses of nature, play, and reading in the early years), but I've ramped up efforts this summer to prep her for the rigorous Kindergarten she will be attending in the fall. (As most of you know, I'm not a huge fan of rigor in kindergarten, but...I love the school and I am super excited for her to join her two older sisters there). Since it is a homeschool/campus hybrid, we have flexibility on the at-home days to explore, sing, jump, and sleep in.
On at least five out of seven summer days, we sing the alphabet (while pointing to the letters on a wall chart), count to 100 aloud (while pointing to the letters on a wall chart), sing the Days of the Week song, sing the Months of the Year song, and do flash cards for +0's and +1's. I then have her write out her uppercase alphabet on a writing pad. See above. Finally, she gets some time to do educational apps on the iPad.
Below are some of the products we use most often in our daily routine.
My homeschool room currently has SIX laminated posters on display - Numbers (1-100), Alphabet (Modern Manuscript), Days of the Week, Months of the Year, Descriptive Words, and Plane Geometric Shapes. Clearly, I have a thing for posters. I love to be able to point to them and reference them throughout the year.
Note that the posters do not come laminated, but you can easily take them to your local office supply store or parent/teacher store and they will do it for you. Definitely worth the money as they will last much longer!
I have my daughter write out her uppercase ABCs on most days of the week. She sits at her desk and uses three tools - a Mead Learn To Letter Primary Writing Tablet, a My First Ticonderoga Pencil, and a Left/Right Alphabet Ruler (for reference).
We have a child-size desk by Lipper International that works well for incoming kinders. The child's work station and chair is best for ages 4-9. My almost 11-year-old could use the chair in a pinch, but it's definitely better suited for early elementary. Features include one pull-out drawer for storing writing utensils and two built-in shelves.
Don't waste your money on flash cards before you've seen these ones. They are the best flash cards we've ever used because they are color-coded, kid-sized, sturdy, and on a ring! So much easier than searching for stacks of flash cards and/or rubber-banding groups together. I only wish I had found out about them earlier!
My only wish is that the sight word cards were color-coded in order according to the Fry's system (the most common words used in English ranked in order of frequency).
I recommend these sturdy, colorful, and artistic counting flash cards by Eric Carle. They are big and durable - with vibrant numbers on one one side and coordinating illustrations on the other side. I use these cards about every other day to practice counting to 10, identifying the numbers, and ordering them (from 1-10).
Apparently, there are also alphabet and shapes flash card by The World of Eric Carle, which are probably just as terrific.
My favorite workbooks are by Kumon Publishing. They are aesthetic, colorful, and thoughtfully-designed.
Kumon offers very specific books in different disciplines (examples: addition, lowercase alphabet, telling time, pasting, rhyming words, etc) from PreK all the way up to 8th grade so you can really hone in on any areas you want to work on.
We don't do workbooks every single day, but we do try to do about five pages every three days or so. My 5-year-old would gladly do more, but I typically have limited energy and time reserves...especially since I have to keep an eye on our newly crawling baby.
We're about 80% thru the Singapore Math Kindergarten A book. (There is an A & B). Each unit covers a new topic - sets, counting to 5, number order, patterns, length, equal sets, etc.
Things I like about this curriculum - (1) There is a brief "introduction" at the bottom of each page that gives parents ideas about how to present the topic. (2) Each page has big and fun illustrations. (3) It's an easy curriculum to jump right into. No teacher manual or planning required. (4) It's affordable! Under $25 for both A & B workbooks.
Two wishes for the curriculum - (1) I wish there was some color in the book. (2) I'd love to see this curriculum presented in a spiral bound format. It's sometimes hard to keep this book open and/or for young children to write their numbers correctly.
Our alphabet and number wooden puzzles by Hape have gotten good use over these last few months. We point out the letters as we sing the ABC's and/or to the numbers as we count to 20. I also sometimes play "games" where I take 2 or 3 away and then she has to say which ones are missing.
After we do our daily routine (listed above), I typically allow my daughter to get the iPad and play an educational game or two.
The ABCmouse app has a fantastic reputation and has won a number of awards for preschool + kindergarten readiness. A recent research study found that ABCmouse "contributed to significant increases in kindergarten readiness for prekindergarteners and significant acceleration in literacy and math gains among kindergarteners."
Designed for ages 2-8, children move from "level" to "level" by playing games, listening to songs, coloring in and tracing letters, etc. There is also a built-in "rewards" program - where kids earn tickets and redeem them for virtual pets, clothes, and more.
We've also been using the BRAND NEW Phonics Museum app by Veritas Press. The app is billing itself as being "the only complete reading app that will teach your child to read in record speed." Designed for ages 4-7, the app moves your child through an art museum where they sing songs, play games, and watch live video instruction by Miss Biddle (a zany lady in purple glasses and an alphabet dress).
If you're familiar with Veritas Press, you know they offer a rigorous classical curriculum. Phonics Museum is built with these same principles in mind! The phonics-based program teaches uppercase and lowercase letters, helps children understand the consonant-vowel and vowel-consonant syllables, as well as beginning blending. The app uses the same story, same concepts, and similar teaching as the paper curriculum.
Now, I really want to hear from you, dear readers. What do you consider to be "kindergarten readiness"? Does your child's school require an assessment of any kind before entering kindergarten? Do you send your child to half-day, full day, or some other combination? What books or resources do you use to prep your child for kinder?