Parents are often plagued with hundreds of questions when it comes to preparing their child for kindergarten. Questions like: ‘what skills does my child need?’ and ‘what should I teach my child before s/he begins kindergarten?’ are foremost on their minds. Many want to know how to keep things fun and positive when transitioning a child emotionally to full-time kindergarten. Kindergarten prep always begins at home and parents can do many things in order to ease the process.
Here are some tips for preparing your child for kindergarten:
1. Talk about school in a positive way
In order to get your child excited about kindergarten, speak about it in a positive and excited manner. Express enthusiasm about school and the things your child will learn so that s/he also looks forward to going to school.
2. Get your child to spend some time away from you
One of the most important aspects of ‘preparing a child for kindergarten’ checklist is to ensure that the child is comfortable around other adults. To do that, get your child to spend some time away from you; perhaps a neighbor, friend, or aunt/uncle/grandparent can offer to babysit your child for a couple of hours, or longer. These days; most parents opt to send their kids to a pre-school and that really helps. It can instill a sense of independence in the child and also gives parents a chance to assess how their child does when they aren’t around.
3. Give them responsibilities
One of the best ways to prepare your child emotionally and socially for kindergarten is by giving them certain responsibilities at home. A child about to start kindergarten should be able to:
- Dress him/herself
- Take off/put on their shoes by themselves
- Wash their hands independently
- Close and open food containers independently
- Close and open their backpacks independently
- Go to the washroom independently without reminders
At home, make your child do these things in addition to having them help set the table, dress and undress themselves, wash their hands and also wipe their bottoms after restroom use.
4. Get your child to socialize with other children
Arrange for play-dates over the summer and get your child enrolled in some summer activities. This is especially important for kids who haven’t had a pre-school experience. If possible meet parents of children who will be attending the same kindergarten and arrange for their children to interact with yours. This will also help foster friendships and your kid will feel more comfortable attending the school full-time, thanks to familiar faces.
5. Participate in mom and me programs
Many local, public libraries and town centers have various family-and-child or mom-and-me activities. Get your child enrolled in them as they really help you take an active part in your child’s learning. You will also meet other kids in your child’s age group.
6. Set up a home schedule
Before your child starts kindergarten in the fall, get him/her to have a specific routine at home. This could include activity time, shorter nap times, and mealtimes, followed by quiet time. You can also pack their lunch in their school backpack and have a picnic in the yard. Follow this up with quiet activity time like solving puzzles or coloring etc. This is a great way to have your child practice opening and closing the lunch containers that s/he would carry to school.
7. Engage in role-play
Role-playing is a great way to get your child to get ready socially and emotionally for kindergarten. It can help a child understand that all feelings are okay, and that s/he must wait patiently for a few minutes until a teacher can attend to her/him. It is a good idea to have other children come over for these activities too so that a child learns to respect the feelings of others and also understands the concept of cause and effect in different circumstances.
8. Provide opportunities for fine motor skills development
In order to enhance a child’s cognitive abilities before he/she starts school, you can provide them opportunities to lace cards, play in parks, sing and dance, practice lining up blocks and trains, and other activities that require them to sit patiently for several hours.
9. Provide opportunities for cognitive readiness
In order to enhance a child’s cognitive skills, give him/her opportunities to color, glue, and draw. Also, get them to count, write and read their name, and even practice printing their name on their artwork. This is an important aspect of kindergarten prep at home.
10. Prepare them for using the school bus
If your child will be using the bus, teach him/her about reaching the bus-stop on time. Bring them to watch the bus pick up and drop. Meet the driver and request a practice ride if possible. This is a good way of having your child make friends with other kids on the bus.
11. Some more kindergarten prep checklist tips
- Read with your child daily. Make it fun. Visit libraries and read stories over and over.
- Point out letters and signs, numbers and colors.
- Play games, encourage your child to count during games
- Let your child help around the house
- Set a bedtime and waking-up routine
12. Tips for the first day of school
Many parents get emotional on their child’s first day of school. This can also make the child nervous. Some educators believe that the best way to prevent that ‘lump-in-the-throat’ feeling is by actively participating in the child’s school activities. If possible, volunteer as a helper for your child’s teacher. Understand that most kids settle down as soon as their parents leave. So, firmly hug your child and tell him/her what time you/caregiver will return. Remain cheerful and remind them of the exciting things they will be learning. Take some time to talk to your child’s teacher if you get a chance. Stay in touch with your child’s teacher.
Check the school website from time to time in order to stay abreast of the curriculum as well as for tips you can use to make your child feel more comfortable about his/her school experience.