The months leading up to the first day of kindergarten can be an ideal time to prepare your child for what to expect. Many kindergarten teachers tell parents that basic everyday activities are the best ways to help a child feel confident and ready for the transition to kindergarten.
“Students should have some exposure to being read to. Have parents read books to their child so they are practicing some listening skills, some daily routines and procedures of what it would look like for a teacher to read to their student in the classroom,” said kindergarten teacher Kathleen James, who teaches at Chinle Elementary School in Chinle, AZ. “Parent support from home has to be strong – I really feel like parents are their child’s first teacher. More interaction opportunities with your child will also build your child’s language development and help them to become independent.”
Below are some tips from First Things First to help your preschooler have a fun, easy transition to kindergarten:
- Read with your child at least 20 minutes per day. Try books that repeat words; involve activities like counting, identifying colors, objects or letters; or, are about things your child likes. Ask questions like, “What do you think happens next?”
- Talk with your child everywhere – at home, in the car, at the store. Make up stories or songs about your outings.
- Writing begins with scribbling. Give your child safe writing tools to play with, like crayons, chalk or markers and blank paper. Ask your child to tell you about their drawings.
- Teach your child how to use the bathroom by themselves, to wash their hands after going to the bathroom and before eating, to blow their nose and sneeze into their elbow.
Before the first day, talk with your child about what to expect during the school day and types of after-school activities they may be involved in. The more details kids know, the less anxious they will feel.
Rehearse for the big day with test-runs of the new routine, which will include:
- Choosing what to wear the night before.
- Waking up early to have plenty of time to get ready.
- Eating a healthy breakfast.
- Walking to the bus stop and talking about boarding and where to sit.
- Practicing how to open parts of lunch, whether it’s a carton of milk or a small bag of carrots. Remind them that teachers or lunch staff can help if needed.
Even if you don’t have kindergarteners this year, it’s never too early to start helping toddlers and preschoolers prepare. Children who have positive early childhood experiences tend to score higher on school readiness assessments and are more likely to do well in school and graduate.
By turning everyday moments into learning moments, we can send our young kids to school with the skills – and the love of learning – that will help them succeed in kindergarten and beyond!