Get your child ready for kindergarten and have fun doing it. Preparing your child for the first day of kindergarten doesn't have to be boring or stressful. With these kindergarten prep activities, your child will have fun and practice important skills they'll need for the start of their academic journey.
What Your Child Should Know Before Kindergarten
When your child starts kindergarten, there's a general list of things they will be expected to know or have the ability to do. These kindergarten readiness requirements are mostly categorized under reading, language, math, social skills, motor skills, or emotional development.
You can brush up on the details of what your child needs to know for kindergarten, but the biggest expectations are:
Recognition of most letters, numbers, colors, shapes, and family members
Social skills to interact well with others
Ability to follow directions and focus on tasks
Knowledge of their personal details, like their name and age
Motor skills to hold writing tools, climb stairs, run, and jump
Skills to feed themselves, take themselves to the bathroom, and put on their shoes and jacket
Kindergarten Prep Activities to Build Skills & Knowledge
Getting ready for kindergarten doesn't have to take up your entire summer vacation or feel like a chore. Simply weaving the readiness requirements into the interactions you have with your child throughout the day and incorporating them into some of their play will help them feel prepared on the first day of school.
Most of the things you can do to prepare your child for kindergarten will involve more than one skill or ability. Some activities may help you build on motor skills while understanding basic shapes, while others teach independence as they learn to dress themselves. Multipurpose activities give your child a toolbox of skills to build on as they grow.
Start With Intentional Daily Interactions
Don't worry; most of the things you do to prepare your child for kindergarten require very little time and resources. Start by adding a few interactions into your daily routine to create a foundation to work on all summer long.
Start conversations as often as possible to help them engage in their observation skills. Try pointing out colors of fruit at the grocery store, discussing the large and small vehicles as you're driving, and describing the shapes of things in your home.
Work in some quiet time. Helping your child learn to sit and quietly focus on one task for 5-10 minutes at a time will help them learn how to sit quietly in their kindergarten class. This is a great way to encourage other skills through quiet play, like coloring or working puzzles.
Create a morning routine. With a morning routine already in place, the transition to school will feel much easier. Use this morning time to discuss the day of the week or the weather outside. Help them check off morning routine tasks like getting dressed and brushing their teeth.
Weave some learning into your morning routine by choosing a color, letter, or shape of the day. Spend the rest of the day looking for objects together that correspond with those details.
Throw in some friendly competition. Look for opportunities to time your child as they put on their shoes or challenge them to clean up all their toys in the it takes to listen to their favorite song.
Educational Games to Help Your Child Learn Kindergarten Concepts
There are opportunities around every corner in your day to create fun games that double as educational activities for your pre-kindergarten child. Work a few of these games into your week to help them develop skills, learn concepts, and have loads of fun along the way.
Letter & Alphabet Go Fish
Use letter and alphabet flash cards to play an educational version of Go Fish. You might need a couple of decks to play according to traditional rules, but with enough cards, you can spend quality time with your child while teaching them letter and number recognition. Or, you can use blank printable flashcards to make your own (use cardstock or glue them to index cards to make them more durable).
Play Dough Challenges
Grab the play dough and challenge your child to create shapes and recognize colors as they go. See if they can make blue circles, red triangles, and yellow stars as you're playing. This helps with color and shape recognition, as well as fine motor skill development.
Sidewalk Chalk Games
Use sidewalk chalk games to challenge your child while you're playing outside. Draw the entire alphabet on the pavement and see if your child can jump to the letter you call out or find objects in the yard that start with that letter.
You can also apply this game method to numbers and shapes. To make the game challenging, draw the letters pretty far apart and out of traditional order.
Role Playing With Dolls
Role play with dolls and other toys to help your child understand social interactions. Use dolls and other toy collections to play out scenarios of kindness, sharing, safety, and how to play well with others. You can also show how to introduce oneself and help your child practice communicating their personal details.
Educational Car Games
Play engaging car games when you're traveling and throw in some other educational factors as well. Challenge your child to find five white cars, count the number of red cars, or even recognize the different shapes of road signs. You can also challenge them to find license plates or road signs with each letter of the alphabet as you're headed to your destination.
Number & Letter Matching Game
Turn flash cards into a matching game for your child. With two or three flash card decks, you can teach them letter and number recognition as they flip cards and find matches.
When your child is coloring or drawing, ask them to draw their entire family and point out each member. You can also challenge them as they progress to "draw dad in a yellow shirt" or "draw a blue hat on brother." Give them creative drawing prompts to challenge their fine motor skills and imagination.
Color By Number
Make your own color by number game with chalk or finger paints. Number each color and challenge your child to correctly color in the shapes, animals, or objects in their corresponding color.
Turn Everyday Tasks Into Fun Activities
As you're going about your day, look for moments to teach your child a new skill or concept in a fun way. Create small challenges in everyday activities and plan for extra fun versions of your daily routine. These little moments of intentionality will add to a fully prepared kindergartener by summer's end.
Rhyme & Count on Stairs
Whenever you encounter a staircase, challenge your child to help you rhyme words as you climb the steps. For example, challenge them to think of one word that rhyme with "cat" for each stair you step on. You can even call out shapes or colors for each step or simply count the steps as you go.
Write With Shaving Cream
When your child is in the bath, spray a bit of shaving cream on the shower walls and show them how to draw letters in the shaving cream with their fingers. You can also do this with finger paints.
Count in the Sprinkler
Make fun water activities a way they can learn. For example, when it's time to break out the sprinkler in the summer, challenge your child to count how many times they run through the sprinkler or how many seconds they can stand under the falling water.
Make Swimming Educational
When you're swimming throughout the summer, help your child make shapes in the sand at the beach or let them dive for different colored sinking toys in the pool. When you're searching for seashells, ask them about the color and size of the shells. Engaging their mind while they're already having a great time will help them see how much fun learning can be.
Make Cleaning a Game
As you're cleaning up, get your child involved in a fun way. Challenge them to find all the red toys first and put them away, then the blue, and so on. You can also put things away in order of smallest to largest or see if they can finish putting away their toys before you count to 50 or say the entire alphabet.
Time Independent Tasks
Time your child as they put on their clothes, their jacket, or their shoes to help them master those important independence skills.
Observe Details at the Park
When you're at the park or out in nature over the summer, challenge your child to find something in every color before you leave: a red slide, green trees, a yellow bench, etc.
Make Pizza & Learn
When it's time for Friday night pizza, invite your child to help you make homemade pies. Handling dough or sprinkling cheese helps them develop fine motor skills. Counting pepperonis or noticing how the slices are shaped like triangles will help develop number and shape recognition. As you're baking the pizza, challenge them to count down the final seconds of bake time.
Learn While Baking
For all of your summer bakes, bring your child into the kitchen with you. Measuring ingredients teaches them number recognition and basic math. Stirring and portioning will fine-tune those developing fine motor skills. This also gives you an opportunity to teach more advanced skills like measurement quantities, how to recognize words in a recipe, and how certain ingredients work together.
Make Your Own Educational Moments
The summer before kindergarten doesn't have to be full of worksheets and homework in order to get your child ready for school. Look for fun moments to include skill development in a challenging way or just play a simple game that adds to their number, letter, or shape recognition abilities. Every moment can be a teaching moment for your child that helps them feel confident as they walk in on that first day of kindergarten.