With today’s busy schedules and pressure to perform, it is absolutely essential to make time to play each and every day. There are so many academic and social skills that are developed during early childhood play. Kids learn to use their imaginations, interact with peers, entertain themselves when they are alone, share, and develop crucial oral language skills—all absolutely essential for getting ready for kindergarten.
Here are a few fun and easy ways to get ready for kindergarten in a playful way:
- Schedule play dates. Ask your child if there are any other kids from their preschool they would like to play with after class. If you are a working parent, like I was during the preschool years, it might not be possible to connect with other families at pick-up time. Ask the teacher if she could forward an email to the other family or help your child write a card to give to the friend in class. Set up a time for the kids to play or meet the other family at a local park on the weekend. It’s a great opportunity for kids as well as adults!
- Encourage your child to communicate when they are out in public. Of course, we always want to teach our kids to be aware of strangers, but it’s also important to let them know who it is OK to talk to. In my own family, we have always said that my daughter makes a new best friend everywhere she goes. On a family vacation, she will hop in the pool, and within about a minute we will hear, “Hi, I’m Emmie. What’s your name?” Practice this with your kids! It may feel uncomfortable for them at first, but practice makes perfect.
- Act out a few different friendship scenarios with puppets or stuffed animals. Have your child play the part of the puppet who is trying to make a new friend. Practice introductions, polite conversation, and how to ask someone to play with you. It’s a valuable skill that will stick with your child for years to come.