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Starting Kindergarten

All parents want their children to do well in school. A child who is ready for school can express his feelings. He cares about the feelings and needs of others. He is eager, curious and able to pay attention. And he can give and receive help. If your child is not ready to start school, you may want to let him start a little later.


Starting School

Call your local school district to find out when your child can start kindergarten. Ask if there are programs to help prepare your child for kindergarten, and find out about shots your child must have before she starts school. For information about shots, see the Your Child’s Check-Ups page in this guide.

Ask which public school your child will go to. You may be able to ask for a different school if you want.

After your child starts kindergarten, ask when you can go to a parent meeting. Use the parent meeting to find out what skills your child must learn before she can go to first grade.

Help your kid ace Kindergarten



Little girl Starting-KindergartenHelp Your Child Do Well in School

  • Make sure your child has a good night’s sleep. Most young children need 10 hours of sleep every night.
  • Make sure your child eats breakfast. Pack a healthy snack and lunch. Ask about free or low-cost school breakfast and lunch programs.
  • Ask your child about his day at school.
  • Set limits on TV and computer games. See the Children and Technology page.
  • Know who your child’s friends are, and invite them over.
  • Keep your child out of school when he is sick.
  • Use your library. Public libraries are free. Librarians can help parents and students find information. Many libraries have tutoring, ESL (English as a Second Language) classes and computers.

Stay Involved in Your Child’s School

  • Get to know your child’s teacher and her friends’ parents.
  • Go to Back-to-School nights and parent meetings.
  • Join a parent group, like the PTA or School Site Council.
  • Talk to the principal if you are not happy with your child’s education.
  • If you do not speak English, make sure the school staff talk with you directly or through an interpreter, not through your child.

Bullying and Teasing

Children who are bullied or teased may grow up feeling depressed or angry. They may also bully others. If your child tells you someone is picking on him, take the problem seriously. Try to work it out with his teacher or principal, and the parents of the other child. Make sure the bullying stops, even if you have to change your child’s class.

If your child is bullying other children, teach him other ways to resolve conflicts. Act now—it is easier to change the way your child acts when he is young.

The First Things First Parent Kit was developed in partnership with Health Research for Action/UC Berkeley. © 2018 The Regents of the University of California. Additional video, graphic and other content © 2018 First Things First. All rights reserved.

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