- Make sure that your child knows their full name, address, parent's names and phone number.
- Talk to your child about the difference between friends and strangers.
- Make sure that you have a current photo of your child.
- Teach your child about when a situation becomes an emergency, including special instructions on when and how to call 9-1-1.
- Give your child words that help them describe what they are feeling. What makes you happy? What makes you feel better if you are sad?
- Let your child know what actions are appropriate to express their feelings. Are there times when it is okay to yell loudly? Do they know the difference between an inside voice and an outside voice?
November (Reading Ready)
- Practice saying the alphabet with your child. Help them discover the sounds of each letter.
- Read books to your child often and begin teaching them sight words (and, is, the, etc.) by pointing them out on the page.
- Build your child's vocabulary by explaining and discussing everyday activities.
- Make a habit of visiting the library and letting your child pick out books. Create a special place at home for library books and encourage your child to put each book away before taking another one.
- Tell your child a story about family traditions, including the holidays that you celebrate and the activities that you do to make it special.
- Provide paper and basic art supplies, and encourage your child to create a holiday card for someone special.
- Make a family tree that includes your child, their siblings, parents and grandparents.
- Celebrate other cultures by trying ethnic foods, special crafts or sharing folktales from other places.
January (Getting Dressed)
- Let your child practice making decisions by giving them choices on what they wear. Would you like to wear your red shirt today or the blue one?
- Practice fastening buttons, using a zipper and tying shoes.
- Make sure that the clothes your child wears to school or away from home are easy to manage when using the restroom.
February (Math Concepts)
- Let your child practice sorting skills. They can sort laundry by color, sort groceries as you put them away, and sort shoes and toys before bedtime.
- Help your child practice counting to twenty. If this is too easy for your child, let them count by twos, fives or tens.
- Compare objects by size and shape. Familiarize your child with the concepts such as big, bigger, biggest.
March (Nature and Seasons)
- Observe nature with your child and talk about the seasons. What animals or birds can they see? Is it cold outside? What color are the leaves during the spring and what happens to them in the fall?
- Talk to your child about days of the week, the names of months and special events that take place each year, like birthdays and holidays.
- Go on an outdoor scavenger hunt and collect objects to display for each season.
April (Art and Music)
- Expose your child to different kinds of music. Clap out rhythms and listen for different instruments in the songs.
- Recycles objects around the house such as shoe boxes, oatmeal containers or paper towel rolls to make homemade musical instruments.
- Provide your child with plenty of paper and other art supplies that will allow them to express themselves creatively.
May (Working with Others)
- Attend a library program or other group activity to allow your child time to interact with other children.
- Talk to your child about how they can introduce themselves and encourage them to make new friends.
- Teach your child about taking turns, sharing and helping others.
- Remind your child to say "please" and "thank you," and don't forget to model this behavior yourself.
- Playing board games together is a great way for your child to practice taking turns, and helps them to improve their language and counting skills.
- Find a project that your child can complete in several steps. Cooking or gardening together can provide a great opportunity for your child to gain a sense of accomplishment.
- Take time to praise your child when you catch them doing something right, instead of waiting to correct them when they do something wrong.
- Encourage your child to try something new and let them know how proud you are when they do.
- Create a list of chores that are age-appropriate and let your child check off the list as each chore is completed.
July (Motor Skills)
- Throw and catch a ball with your child outside to help them develop large motor skills.
- Practice simple finger plays, such as the Itsy Bitsy Spider, to help your child develop small motor skills.
- Provide crayons and safety scissors to your child, and remind them how to use them correctly.
- Give your child pasta or large beads and yarn to string into a bracelet or necklace.
August (Final Steps)
- Make sure that your child is current on all immunizations.
- Practice good hygiene, including washing hands, brushing teeth and combing hair.
- Spend the weeks before school starts getting your child on a regular sleep schedule.
- Visit your child's school before the first day to help them feel familiar with where they are going.
Countdown to Kindergarten is a program made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Library Services and Technology Act.