If you’re a parent, you know that major milestones like the first day of kindergarten can be as stressful as they are sentimental.
These moments like to sneak up on you, too. One day you’re buying your baby stimulation toys, and then before you know it, you’re watching them climb onto the school bus, feeling so nervous you’re ready for a nightcap at 6:30 in the morning.
What’s the key to fighting this stress? Preparation—and as these helpful tools show, there’s no such thing as “too early” to start. Read on to see how to prepare even the youngest kids for the big K.
Tablets have something to teach everyone, including younger children (even babies, if they’re approaching toddler age!). Schools today show kids how to use these devices just like they teach them how to handle pencils and scissors. That means tablets are good for more than educational programming and apps—they give kids an early chance to master tools they’ll use on their first day of kindergarten and through the rest of their lives.
Tablets are obviously designed for ease of use, but some, like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 3 Kids, tout durable construction that can tolerate rough handling by children. They’re endlessly versatile, with a wide range of apps for all ages. When you’re growing up in a technology-focused world, baby stimulation doesn’t get more useful than that.
Start ‘Em Young
At this stage in your child’s development, your goal is to encourage basic skills (think spatial awareness and manual dexterity) and “set the table” for future skills, like word and color memorization. But fret not, parents of younger babies: there are plenty of toys to prepare six-month-and-under kiddos for the first day of kindergarten, too.
This Fluttering Butterflies Gears Toddler Toy from beloved top-tier toy maker Melissa and Doug is one good tool to help develop these abilities. It promotes multiple skills they’ll further hone in kindergarten, including dexterity, memory, and basic cause-and-effect. The ability to remove and place gears also promotes creativity and problem-solving, which are two big grade-school focuses. Not every toy has to have a direct educational focus to be an invaluable educating tool—this one is proof positive.
Sight Words: A Must
Kindergarten has changed a lot since your graduation. Take, for instance, the educational system’s recent love affair with sight words: if your current early reading strategy starts and stops at “sound it out,” you’ll likely find yourself drowning in flashcards and worrying about your child’s progress when school finally begins.
If you want to bridge this gap early, check out Meet The Sight Words 1, a DVD designed to help kids pick up common words at a glance. Though educational in nature, it dresses the learning in themes that babies and young kids love (construction and sports, for instance). They also turn the words in question into colorful cartoon characters, making them easier to remember. Perhaps best of all, their low-key approach isn’t nearly as grating as some baby stimulation videos. If you’ve ever wanted to scream after watching the same DVD a hundred times, you know how valuable that part is!