Incoming kindergarten lecturers have to know a very powerful life expertise
It’s no surprise that academic rigor has become the focus of kindergarten in the United States. Kindergarten teachers are expected to teach their class of 20+ five-year-olds a total of 98 academic standards. These 98 standards were written with the assumption that these five year olds will enter kindergarten with a mile-long list of academic skills. But how do you even start teaching academics to children who haven’t even learned to hear a story? It is important that incoming kindergarten teachers know the life skills first.
Thanks to the internet, I reached over 70 kindergarten teachers in the US and asked them:
“What skills would you like to have that every budding kindergarten teacher would master when he comes into your classroom on the first day of school?”
Of the 73 responses, only 9 were academically related. All other answers were life skills.
Here are the life skills you should teach your child before they start kindergarten
Get all of these skills in one printable checklist here!
Use the toilet
Teach Them How To:
- Flush the toilet.
- Use a urinal without pulling down your pants.
- Wipe yourself.
- Close and latch a bathroom door.
- Undo clothes.
Teach Them How To:
- Open a milk carton.
- Open the cheese spread.
- Open each item in your lunch box independently.
- Clean up at the end of lunch.
- Determine what to throw away and what to keep (disposable or reusable).
- Do you know if they brought a lunch box that day.
- Know how to put the lunch box in the backpack.
- Do you know what your lunch box looks like
Adjust clothing correctly
Teach Them How To:
- Zip, button, press stud, tie.
- Put on a jacket.
- Fasten your belt.
- Tie or Velcro their shoes.
- Understand that they need to get dressed at school.
Knowing their important family information
- First and Last Name.
- First and last name of parents.
- Telephone number of the caretaker.
With the right social skills
- Respectfully answer an adult.
- Answer if their name is mentioned.
- Know it’s their turn.
- Lose gracefully.
- Be nice to each other.
- Know the difference between tattling and telling.
Behavior in a classroom
- Sit down on a chair.
- Know how to do it in two steps.
- Sit quietly and listen to a story.
- Keep hands to yourself.
- Know how to do UNPREFERRED tasks (we have to let our kids get bored at times).
- Pack your backpack independently.
- Understand positional words.
- Blow your nose.
Use motor skills
- Hold a pencil.
- Use colored pencils.
- Hold scissors.
- Role play dough.
Why is it so important to teach life skills?
Imagine you have to teach the standard RL.K.4 “Asking questions and answers about unknown words in a text”. (Just one of those 98 standards you will be held accountable for!).
You have 30 minutes until noon, which is just enough time to read a story. They ask students to take two steps to slide their chairs under the desks and move around to sit on their carpet seats. Unfortunately, four students failed to learn this skill. So lead them to their place one by one. Then a student doesn’t know how to unbutton his pants and has to use the bathroom, so you take a break to help him. Another student has never learned to hear a story so he rolls around the carpet. Unfortunately, very few of your incoming kindergarten teachers knew the above life skills and now there are only a few minutes left until lunch.
Maybe you can read the story tomorrow.
I’m a teacher and a toddler mom, but even I would have overlooked most of these life skills when preparing my little boy for school.
Why? It’s so much easier for me to do these things just for him. Is it really necessary to teach him all of these things?
Yes. Yes, it is. And here’s why.
If he’s in the dining room with only 20 minutes of eating time and 50 other kindergarten teachers have to open their cheese spread, I know he’ll sit there for the entire 20 minutes waiting for help and forget to eat the rest of his meal.
I understand now. Imagine how much time we would give back to our kindergarten teachers if all parents made sure their child knew these skills? Imagine how much more time you could spend teaching these 98 academic standards.