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Buying guide for best kindergarten learning kits

For young people, Kindergarten is a milestone. It’s the traditional time in life when formal schooling begins. Many parents recall their own carefree Kindergarten days as they prepare their children for this rite of passage. But things are different today; we have much higher expectations of today’s Kindergarteners. 

The human brain grows more during the first eight years of life than any other time. As a result, the modern Kindergarten curriculum focuses intently on learning. Success in Kindergarten is largely predictive of educational achievement in the years that follow. Kids who struggle in the early grades often end up playing catch-up for years if learning problems go unaddressed. 

With so much at stake, it’s not surprising that many parents choose to take charge of their child’s Kindergarten education at home. Let BestReviews help you find the Kindergarten kits that can give your child a great foundation — and great memories, too.

By the end of Kindergarten, kids should have an attention span of 15 to 20 minutes.

Key considerations

Reading, writing, and arithmetic remain the staples of Kindergarten, but they’re not the only areas of learning for today’s students. Before we delve into the features of Kindergarten learning kits, let’s take a look at what’s important for kids to learn during the Kindergarten year.

Reading

By the time kids complete Kindergarten, they are expected to know all 26 letters of the alphabet. This includes capital and lowercase letters as well as the sounds they make. Most are expected to be able to read a handful of beginning words, like the sight words that appear in kids’ books and other three-letter words with short vowel sounds.

Writing

In Kindergarten, children practice printing capital and lowercase  letters. They should also attempt to write words and simple sentences. Keep your expectations realistic, however, and be sure to encourage any efforts. Verbal storytelling is a great pre-literacy exercise at this age because it gets kids to think creatively and practice organizing their thoughts. 

Math

Kindergarten math is all about numbers. By the end of the year, they should be able to count and recognize most numbers up to 100. Additional math concepts to cover this year include greater and less than, ordinal number counting, and patterns. Tools like clocks and calendars should be introduced. At the end of the year, some children will be able to complete simple addition and subtraction problems. 

Science

Children are naturally interested in the world around them, and many Kindergarten science learning kits teach concepts such as weather, the five senses, plants, animals, and health. Science at this level won’t be extremely deep or thorough, but it will introduce them to basic concepts and spark their interest and curiosity. Hands-on activities capture attention best. 

Social studies

Basic social studies lessons can help children make sense of their community and world. Kids need to know where they live, their country’s traditions, and a basic sense of national history. They should also be aware of other countries, cultures, and traditions. These kinds of lessons can overlap with basic geography and reinforce understanding of different regional climates and natural resources. 

Social skills like sharing, turn-taking, conflict resolution, waiting to speak, and other emotional regulation exercises are important in Kindergarten. If you’re homeschooling a class of one, it may be difficult to find teachable moments that reinforce social skills. Finding community sports, art classes, and homeschooling fellowships is a practical way to fill this void. 

Art and music

Art is an important part of Kindergarten study. Painting teaches about primary colors and blending. Modeling with clay gives kids an opportunity to express creativity while strengthening their fine motor skills. Creating textured pieces of art improves sensory awareness.

Music is another important component of Kindergarten. Singing and rhyming wordplay can help boost literacy, while rhythm can bolster math skills. It’s also important to note that kids’ musical aptitude is mostly developed by age seven. Kids can definitely learn music skills after that age, but Kindergarten year is an important time to lay down a foundation for future musical success.

Did you know?
The average Kindergartener has a working vocabulary of more than 2,000 words.
STAFF
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Features

You are unlikely to find a kit that embodies all of the academic areas we’ve mentioned. Think of a learning kit as a learning toy; the focus of the item may be math, STEM, sight words, fine motor coordination, or another skill. A learning kit is not a curriculum, but it can serve as an important part of a curriculum.

Keep the following features in mind when you’re shopping.

Developmentally appropriate: Make sure any learning kit you select is developmentally appropriate. Kids will quickly tire of materials that are too easy, and they’ll get frustrated by concepts that are too hard. Look at the recommended age range of any product you’re considering. The “average” Kindergarten product is geared toward kids around age five. However, there are children who would enjoy something slightly above or below this recommended age range. You know your child best.

In that same vein, note that paper, dry erase boards, or other writing materials should be larger than standard wide-ruled paper. A dotted center line will also help with letter formation.

Color: Colorful toys tend to attract the attention of Kindergarteners. Look for kits that incorporate bright primary colors rather than bland, neutral colors. 

Safety: Some children may absentmindedly chew or suck learning tools, so make sure any paint or coatings are nontoxic. Art supplies should be washable and non-toxic. Make sure objects are free from splinters, jagged edges, and other hazards, too. 

Accessories

Kindergarten is all about learning, but it needs to be fun, too. The following materials can help you with both.

Comprehensive workbook: BrainQuest Workbook: Kindergarten
Filled with letters, numbers, vocabulary, and more, this workbook presents the basics in a refreshing manner. Make sure you’re ready to help your child with instructions if necessary. 

Build basic sentences: DK Games: Silly Sentences 
Most kids know that letters are building blocks for words, but what comes next? This fun game lets your child take the natural next step in a fun, educational way.

Math manipulatives: Learning Resources Mathlink Cubes 
These colorful cubes help kids understand abstract math ideas. Pop them together and pull them apart to practice addition, subtraction, and sequencing in Kindergarten and beyond.

Hand position correctors: The Pencil Grip Original Universal Ergonomic Writing Aid
Proper hand position is important, but it’s hard for parents to observe. This tool slips onto your child’s pencil and corrects bad pencil technique. It’s perfect for righties and lefties.

Did you know?
Children should be familiar with 7 to 10 basic colors by the end of Kindergarten.
STAFF
BestReviews

Kindergarten learning kit prices

Inexpensive: The most budget-friendly learning kits cost between $5 and $15. At this price, you’ll find fun learning games made from paper and plastic components.

Mid-range: Middle-of-the-road Kindergarten kits cost $15 to $25. In this range, you’ll find learning games made from higher-quality materials as well as smaller science kits. 

Expensive: The priciest Kindergarten learning kits cost $30 or more. You’ll pay this much for comprehensive boxed school kits and in-depth science kits. At this price, kits should include sturdy pieces that can be used again and again or one-of-a-kind experiences that justify the cost. 

Tips

  • Know what your child knows. If your child attended a brick-and-mortar preschool, assess their skills before picking a Kindergarten kit. They may already be familiar with much of the material. 

  • Keep it short and sweet. Most Kindergarten lessons should last 15 minutes or less. 

  • Don’t forget the social skills. Turn-taking may be a Kindergarten skill where homeschooled children need extra opportunities. Practice taking turns with parents, siblings, or others if necessary. 

Around age five, children should be able to follow instructions with two or three steps.

FAQ

Q. Do Kindergarteners need physical education?
A. Yes! Children spend their preschool years building their muscles through fine and gross motor activities. They shouldn’t lose this progress now that they have to sit for longer lessons. Kids should get 60 or more minutes of physical activity every day. That doesn’t mean your kid needs to do jumping jacks and push-ups, although they can if you like. Bike and scooter rides, tree climbing, and games of tag qualify. If you find it difficult to meet this challenge, consider enrolling your child in a community sports program. 

Q. Is pretend play still important in Kindergarten? 
A. Yes! Unstructured, make-believe, and role playing games are important for encouraging creative thought, problem solving, social interaction, and other critical skills. This type of play remains important from toddlerhood until at least age six. Encourage pretend play by providing dress-up clothes, toy food and tools, play tents, building blocks, and other open-ended props. 

Q. Why has Kindergarten changed so much?
A. Recommendations have changed as researchers have learned more about childhood brain development. Creating educational expectations and a love for learning early on can have a lasting effect. What’s more, the earlier a child’s learning challenges are identified, the easier it is for adults to help them catch up. 

Some experts do have concerns about the academic pressure placed on Kindergartners today. They emphasize that young kids still need lots of time for physical and imaginative play.

Q. I plan to homeschool my child indefinitely. Do I need to be concerned about standard Kindergarten requirements? 
A. State laws vary, and some have stricter standards than others. Even in states with relaxed standards, we recommend being mindful of the expectations. After second grade, it’s hard for students to make up lost ground. Homeschoolers can take a more relaxed approach, but parents still need to be on the lookout for potential developmental delays and learning challenges, since there’s no classroom teacher to spot them. Another reason for rigor: if homeschooling doesn’t end up working out for your family, or if a situation requires a child to eventually return to school, the student won’t be behind if you’ve done your due diligence.  

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