Discovery Point Blog
3 Tips for Preparing Your Child to Start Kindergarten
The start of the school year is a couple of months away. Your family may not be ready to start thinking about shopping for school supplies or checking bus route schedules quite yet. However, if you have a child who will be entering kindergarten in the fall, you may be wondering if you should be getting a head start on helping them get ready.
Using these summer months to gradually prepare your child for the exciting milestone ahead will not only help them make a successful transition to the classroom, but will also give you peace of mind when you drop them off on that first day.
Kindergarten readiness includes a wide range of skills and abilities. Basic fine motor skills and literacy skills are important, but so are socialization and self-help skills. This summer, you can prepare your child in multiple areas to help them feel more comfortable with the shift in environment and expectations that going to school brings.
Tip #1: Help Sharpen Their Academic Skills
There are plenty of fun ways to introduce academic tasks into your child’s day during the summer. The best way to do this is often to designate a block of time each day, such as when a younger sibling takes their nap, as one-on-one “school time.”
Here are some activities you can try:
- Practice writing the alphabet, numbers, and their name. Get your child dry erase markers and a dry erase board they can practice on. Don’t forget that their hand will likely get tired pretty quickly, so taking breaks will be important.
- Read basic books. Now is an excellent time to have your child start sounding out simple words on their own in books that grab their interest. Check out this list of Level 1 books for early readers.
- Read aloud to your child. Being read to will reinforce the literacy skills your child is learning and help them get used to sitting still for longer periods of time.
- Educational computer programs. Online programs like ABCmouse.com motivate children to go beyond the basics and begin delving into subjects like math, science, and social studies.
Tip #2: Promote Self-Help Skills and Independence
Make an effort to give your child the space and time they need to develop their independence at home this summer. Start encouraging them to get dressed on their own, use the bathroom without help, and put on their own shoes.
Allow them to serve themselves at the dinner table and clear their dishes when the meal is over. While you may feel it’s quicker, easier, and less messy to just do these things for them, these skills will transfer to the classroom and help them feel more self-sufficient and confident in their abilities.
Your child may also feel more confident about going to school after a kindergarten visit. Plan a visit to the school, including the classroom, playground, gym, cafeteria, and any other areas your child will need to be familiar with. Having already been to these spaces will take much of the stress and nervousness out of their first day and increase their independence once they walk through the school doors.
Tip #3: Take Care of Practical Preparations
About a month before kindergarten begins, it’s time to start easing into a new routine. We all know how jarring waking up early for a big event can be. To avoid that morning rush, start moving bedtime up earlier bit by bit. Go ahead and establish a morning routine for the whole family, including eating breakfast earlier. If your child still naps, consider shifting nap time based on when they will attend school.
Practical preparations also include making a before- and after-school plan with your child. Discuss how they will get to and from school with them, and outline a backup plan for any unforeseen events (such as what to do if you’re late picking them up).
Don’t hesitate to ask them how they feel about going to school, and acknowledge their feelings every step of the way. Nervousness may turn to excitement and back again quickly, and that’s okay.
As the fall approaches, you may find yourself being more anxious about the upcoming transition than your child. Knowing that you’ve taken steps to help get them kindergarten-ready will ease your mind and help you focus on what a special moment your child’s first day of school really is.