Start by concentrating on the first name. Be sure to encourage proper grip on the pencil or crayon! Say each letter as you write. Don't worry about writing on lined paper or making each letter perfect - it's not developmentally possible at three or four years old! Help your child learn how to write first and last name and worry about making it look nice a little later.
. Identify all 26 letters - capital and lowercase.
This is a skill that would be great for your child to know when entering Kindergarten, by the truth is: it might be too much to know by September. I would expect most children to know by January though. Start with the first letter of your child's first name. Whenever you see his/her name in print, point out the first letter and say its name. Pick random letters as you encounter them: on a cereal box or license plate, in a book, on a toy… Be creative.
*Hint: Capital letters are easier!
Write all 26 letters - capital and lowercase.
A great way to practice writing the letters is by tracing them. Write the letters on a piece of paper with plenty of space around each one. Have your child trace the letters with a pencil, crayon, or marker. After your child can trace them, see if he/she can do it without the tracing as a guide. Again, start with capital letters. There are even fonts available for download that print letters (and numbers!) with dashed lines for tracing!
*Hint: Use unorthodox materials to learn how to write! Finger paint the letters, laminate a piece of paper and give your child a dry-erase marker, write in the sand at the beach or in a sandbox, make a letter with cheerios or veggies during meals…
. Know all 26 letter sounds.
This is obviously dependent on actually knowing the letters first! Be sure to build up to letter sounds once your child can identify each letter. This is a crucial skill as your child learns to read and must "sound out" a word.
*Hint: Want a great educational video to help? Try Leapfrog's The Letter Factory.
Count from 0 - 20.
This is another skill that is essential! Be sure your child knows at least 0 - 10 before starting Kindergarten. Just like with the ABC's, you can count anytime! Spend a minute here or there counting, point out how many of something there are ("Wow! There are two doggies walking outside!") and eventually start asking your child to identify how many there are ("Look at the doggies outside! Maia, how many doggies are there?")
*Hint: Many kids get confused after 10 so be patient! Always correct your child's mistakes calmly and then move one!
Identify numbers 0 - 20.
As your child is learning the numbers, be sure to point them out when you see them in day-to-day life. Point to and identify numbers in a recipe, on a sign, in a book, at the store, or write them yourself!
Write numbers 0 - 20.
Again, start by tracing! It's fun and it will help your child learn how to correctly form each letter. Don't stress that each number is perfect - there is plenty of time to help them write on the lines later. Developmentally, it just isn't possible yet!
Basic sight words.
Sight words are a great way to give a child a "head start" in reading. These words occur often in beginner reader books. Knowing these words will eliminate the need to "sound out" every. single. word. Help your child identify (and eventually spell) the following words: a, at, am, and, can, I, like, me, my, no, said, see, the, to. Add to this list as your child masters the words.
*Hint: Heidi Songs makes GREAT videos that incorporate song and movement to help your child learn sight words. We start each day in my classroom with a word or two from a video to reinforce what we were learning.
Leading to Reading
Read Write Think
Videos on You Tube
Hip Hop Alphabet
The Letter Sounds Song
Count to 100
Leap Frog Letter Chant
Numbers in the Teens
Numbers in the Twenties
Counting by 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s