If you’re like me, it seems like time has flown by – the child who just yesterday was your baby is now preparing to go to kindergarten. It might seem overwhelming, but these simple tips for how to prepare your child for kindergarten can help you and your child be ready on that important first day of kindergarten.
How To Prepare Your Child For Kindergarten
Kindergarten School Preparation
Late spring is generally the time when schools have their “Kindergarten Round-Up” sessions for parents. If you haven’t yet heard about your school’s orientation, call the school or visit the district website to make sure you can attend.
At this meeting, parents get to meet key staff members and receive a packet of information that contains details about the school schedule, bus routes, and kindergarten classroom teachers. There are also a few health forms about your child that need to be completed before the first day of school.
This is a perfect opportunity to schedule an appointment for your child with the pediatrician for the required immunizations and a physical. This is also a good time to
take your child to see the dentist, especially if he/she hasn’t had their first dentist visit exam yet.
Visit the School With Your Child
Your child will likely have many questions regarding what kindergarten will be like. Starting school can feel overwhelming, especially considering all of the new rules and
routines. Take some of the mystery out of the experience by setting aside time during the late spring or summer to visit the school where your child will be attending in the fall. This is an important step in how to prepare your child for kindergarten so they will feel more comfortable on their first day of school.
Start at the office, introducing yourself and your child, taking notes of the names of the principal and the secretary. Walk around the school, making sure to visit the library, gym, cafeteria, playground, bathrooms, kindergarten classrooms, and the bus pick-up and drop-off. Familiarity with your child’s school will help him/her feel more comfortable about going when school starts.
Kindergarten Basic Academic Skills Preparation
There are three major academic areas that children can practice before entering kindergarten. “New parents especially can have a hard time understanding that there are actually things their child should know prior to kindergarten,” says Alise McGregor, founder of Little Newtons. “But if they take time to make sure their child knows some basics, it will make kindergarten a better experience.” A kindergarten readiness assessment may be helpful if you are unsure where they stand academically.
These skills include writing, reading, listening and talking. If you don’t already, it’s important to read with your child about 15 minutes each day. Have your child point out their favorite part of each story, as well as the pictures they like best.
Practicing writing can be intimidating for children at this age. Fill a shallow pan with sand or rice, and have your child practice writing letters and numbers using their fingers or popsicle sticks. For some added fun, take the writing outside – have your child write in the dirt using sticks or on the pavement with sidewalk chalk.
At this stage, it’s important to practice counting to 100 with your child, which can be done anytime and anywhere. My children and I liked to count the number of red cars we saw while running errands, or how many pieces of silverware we put into the dishwasher by forks, spoons and butter knives. This kind of grouping also helps build math skills in classifying and sorting.
Another math activity to use – which also counts as a literacy skill – is to have your child practice writing numbers in order from one to ten. The numbers may be written backward or upside down, which is totally fine – the important part is to practice. You may also want to try a kindergarten math app or kindergarten math journal prompts.
Kindergarten Fine Motor Skills
These skills have to do with hand-eye coordination, and can be practiced during your daily routine. Have your child dress themselves, including all of the zipping, buttoning, snapping and tying that needs to happen. Have them sort laundry into piles (which also incorporates math), or string together beads or cereal with holes in the center for a fun craft activity. Put together a craft box with glue, crayons, markers, fabric, paper, and scissors to encourage your child to practice writing, drawing, coloring and cutting, as well as make priceless works of art in these last days before kindergarten!
There is also a brand new app called First Choice Assessment that is a kindergarten readiness assessment app for parents of 3-5 year olds. Through engaging, 5-minute games, First Choice Assessment will give parents an accurate idea of where their child is developmentally across math, language, literacy and social-emotional learning. The app is available on the App Store.
Kindergarten Social Skills Preparation
As how to prepare your child for kindergarten, it is also important to consider your child’s social skills. Your child should be able to follow directions, be able to be separated from the caregiver and use the restroom independently. Children who scream and cry when they are separated from caregivers disrupt the rest of the class. Teachers simply do not have the time to supervise individual students who cannot independently use the restroom. It is also important that children have basic sharing skills and feel comfortable making new friends and expressing themselves verbally.
I hope these tips help with how to prepare your child for kindergarten. You may also like to read about my daughter’s first day of kindergarten.