Is your child ready for 1st grade? Summer is a good time to prepare your Kindergarten graduate for the great new world of first grade.
The start of first grade means big changes for young students: longer class time, more homework and higher expectations. Even the most enthusiastic students may feel uneasy about the transition.
Fortunately, as parents we have the power to help. We’ve gathered a list of activities that you can do with your child this summer, with an eye toward fun. Think of the learning part as a bonus.
1. Reading: What’s big in first grade? Words, words, words–words that make up sentences, then paragraphs, then entire stories. Reading comprehension is a major focus of the curriculum, to build upon lessons from kindergarten. Make reading equally important at home. Turn trips to the library into mini–adventures: Take your child “hunting for treasure” to find nonfiction books on pirates, if that’s what he or she likes; time travel and introduce books that you loved as a child. Set aside time each evening to relax and read a book together. Visit Kideos for Book Character videos for more reading fun.
2. Writing: At this point your child may be more comfortable making colorful scribbles and drawings than writing down words or ideas. Give him or her lots of plain paper and then get creative. Discuss how pictures can help tell a story. Ask about the drawings and then label important objects, people, places and things. Suggest that your child come up with a story about his or her drawings, and that you will write it down. Challenge your child and family or friends to a friendly competition: team up and write silly little poems. Then read them aloud with exaggerated feeling. Encourage your child to write in a journal. Above all else, make writing fun! Game Classroom can help in that department—Find first grade language arts learning tips and educational games.
3. Arithmetic: Math becomes a bigger factor in first grade, and you will find a wealth of opportunity to practice it within everyday situations. If your child gets an allowance, suggest that he or she keep tabs on how much is going into savings. Help record each “deposit,” then add up all the deposits to see how much money he or she has. Once the piggy bank or jar of coins fills up, have your child make separate piles of each type of coin and count the money that way. Keep numbers top of mind during errands and activities throughout the day: How many apples did you buy at the market? How much flour does the recipe call for? Game Classroom provides 1st grade math tips too.
4. Science: Kids’ natural curiosity is about as sophisticated as it gets at this age, but you’ll want to help your child conduct easy “experiments” when certain questions come up. Just like our generation thought that Pop Rocks and Coke would explode in your stomach, your child’s scientific query is no less urgent. Another fun way to incorporate science into your world—visit a zoo or wildlife rehabilitation center. For more science fun, watch educational videos for kids for Sid the Science Kid videos and more.
5. World Studies: Kids will always think the world revolves around them. But at around first grade, their views start to expand to include other cultures, beliefs and countries. As a family, select a culture that you would like to explore. Research traditional festivals, costumes, and find a recipe to try. Encourage your child to find interesting facts about the culture and then share them. Do this twice a month. Buy a world map and have your child circle the places you’ve “visited” to get a sense of where they are in relation to the U.S.
6. History Lessons: What some children may not understand is that history doesn’t have to be ancient to be significant or relevant today. Suggest your child ask his or her grandparents about what life was like when they were kids. Look at old photos of great grandparents or other family members whom your child will only know through family lore. At some point, have your child select a Founding Father or other significant person from history. Find a nonfiction book to read; this can inspire an interesting conversation about the ways our world would be different if that person hadn’t been in it.
7. Strength Training: Getting a good grip on a pencil and writing neatly and accurately requires well-developed fine-motor control, and this does not necessarily come naturally. Believe it or not, swinging on the monkey bars can help—strong shoulder muscles come before strong hand muscles. Looking for another fun activity to strengthen shoulders? Stage a wheelbarrow race.
8 Self Esteem: Your child is entering new territory—a new classroom, a new teacher—and change is stressful, no matter how good or exciting it might be. Talk with your child about anything he or she might be anxious about, and then provide examples of his or her skills or strength. Help your child see all the reasons he or she can believe that things will go well.
9. Get Good Rest: Lack of sleep muddles the brain and makes it difficult to retain much of anything, especially lessons! Set your family schedule before back-to-school time to ensure the smooth transition to a stricter September schedule. Kids need a lot of sleep; talk with your pediatrician about how much your child should be getting and then set bedtime according to that.
10. Parent-Teacher Role (PTR): Invest time and energy into PTR; if you establish a good relationship with your child’s teacher from the start, you’ll likely feel more comfortable addressing concerns or asking questions as things come up. Additionally, you can provide insight into your child’s strengths and weaknesses if the teacher comes to you with questions. Make trust a big part of this relationship—trust that your child’s teacher has the skills and experience to make good decisions.