back to school hack

One thing I miss about living in a city is being able to hop in the car and hit up my favorite shops. So this weekend, I took a little day trip by myself to the nearest Target. I was immediately drawn to the school supplies. I love it all. I miss teaching - I was a reading specialist for the past seven years prior to moving to NY. I miss the newness the school year brings.

I was especially blown away by all the products available for parents to ready their children for Kindergarten. The worksheets, books, games and even apps out there today are fantastic, but in reality, a Pre-K child just needs some one-on-one time cementing the basics. Here is a list of must knows for your little Kindergartner to-be: name, directions (up, down, left, right), counting/number sense, following directions, and classroom cooperation (sitting in a group, lining up, and raising hand).

For this post let's start with practicing name recognition and beginning writing skills.

Step 1: Download and print this name tag template and cut them out.

Step 2: Write the child's name in thick, legible print. Highlighters are great because your wee one can trace right over it in any color. Don't worry about upper/lower case or different print styles - just be consistent.

Step 3: Adhere it to your kitchen table - where your child usually sits. Bonus points for having the whole family play along.

Step 4: Any time you sit down to eat, talk about their name.
  • Place three or four names along with your child's and have them pick their name out of the lineup - make it a routine, along with setting the table.
  • Say the letters out loud - make it into a song - point to each letter and say its name. Just like any other song or repeated phrase, your child will most likely pick it up naturally.
Step 5: Once your child has mastered recognizing and repeating their letter names, encourage some writing practice.
  • First have them trace each letter in their name with a finger. Prompt your little one to say the name of the letter while they are tracing. Keep learning consistent by always starting top to bottom and left to right.
  • Next, let them trace with a pencil, marker or crayon. Make sure that they are holding the tool between their thumb and pointer.
  • Finally, allow your child to write their name independently!
Step 6: If you want to go a step further, start practicing the sound that each letter makes in their name. Don't worry about letter combinations - just stick with the most common sound that each letter in their name makes (e.g., P as in pig, A as in apple, R as in rat, K as in kite, E as in elephant, R as in red).

Step 7: Repeat often!

This post was brought to you by Keep an eye out for other back to school hacks as well as money saving tips on their site.

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