Between the ages of four and six, a child's mind is at its most malleable. He is on the verge of learning how to read, or has just learned. He is developing the skills that will carry him through the rest of his life. Therefore, it is vitally important that he be given activities in the kindergarten classroom that will develop his newly emerging sensibilities properly.
One of the most important skills that a child needs to develop in kindergarten is her motor skills, both fine and gross. Gross motor skills can be developed by encouraging her to play on playgrounds, both intentional and invented: Allow her to climb trees and monkey bars alike. Pull-along and ride-on toys are also appropriate, as are balls of all sizes and types. A child's fine motor skills can be sharpened by craft- and puzzle-type activities such as stringing beads onto wires and ropes, playing with modeling clay and blocks, and placing wooden pegs in corresponding holes.
In addition to fine motor skills, things like modeling clay and blocks help build a kindergartner's construction skills. This helps a child learn principles like gravity and balance first hand. Teach kindergartners how to build sandcastles at the beach and in the sandbox. Indoors, give them interlocking block sets such as Legos, Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys. Encourage them to build large, elaborate and creative constructions. Another good category of toys is the plastic versions of adult tools such as hammers, nails and screwdrivers.
It is never too early to encourage a child to express himself by playing pretend. Give him safe "grown-up" objects or plastic facsimiles of things like silverware, food, cameras, telephones and tools. Encourage dress-up games with a trunk or box full of Halloween costumes, old clothes and child-safe jewelry. Some kindergartners can be trusted with a simple job in the process of baking cookies or the cooking of dinner. Finally, the best tools for self-expression among kindergartners are simple musical instruments, crayons, paper, finger paints and other child-safe art supplies. Encourage artistic expression by keeping these tools handy and hanging up original artwork on the refrigerator or in the classroom.
A child's investigative skills are largely built by allowing her to engage with the world around her and explore things for herself. This engagement can be encouraged by giving her (and showing her how to use) tools like flashlights, scales, magnets and stethoscopes. The aforementioned construction activities are also good at building a healthy sense of investigation.
Skills and Concepts
Activities that engage a child's capacity for learning new skills and concepts are essential to proper development. Kindergarten is the age when children are just beginning to understand simple and semicomplex stories and games. Teach them finger plays; simple matching games such as memory, dominoes and bingo; and games of chance such as Chutes and Ladders or Candyland. Read them stories that correspond to their comprehension level. Pop-up and tactile books are especially good for kindergartners.
- kindergarten image by Andrey Kiselev from Fotolia.com