Preparing Your Child for Kindergarten

As a parent of a preschool child who is getting ready to enter school for the first time, you might ask yourself what you can do to ready your child for kindergarten. When a child enters full day school for the first time, it can be a difficult and stressful time for both the parent and the child. Luckily, there are things that you can do to help ease your child into kindergarten with little effort.

Starting kindergarten is an exciting time. It is a time when you realize your child is growing up. They are entering the realm of school and exiting the toddler years. However, everyone has seen parents drop of a child that is sobbing hysterically. You never knew a child had sticky tape for arms until you tried to leave them at kindergarten for the first time! By the time the teacher pries your child off of you, your child is in tears and you might be crying in frustration, too. Separation anxiety is not the only problem that children have when they start kindergarten. Some kids never have problems by being left at school. Yet, you notice when you pick your child up, he or she is cranky and tired or starving. Your child has many years of school ahead of him or her and you can help them by preparation. The summer is a perfect time to help your child get ready to start kindergarten. Here are some easy tips that you can do help them have an easier time at school.

Routine: Getting into a routine is one of the most important things you can do to help transition your child into school. This is best done when started early in the summer. If you child is not accustomed to getting up at a certain time or going to bed early. A couple of days will not be enough. Several weeks before kindergarten starts is what it will take. Start by establishing a firm bedtime routine, if you do not already have one. Start with a bath, story time and then off to bed. Most kids need about 12 hours of sleep and this is very important after school starts. Also, get your child up at the same time he or she will need to get up when school starts. Have them get up, get dressed and have breakfast. Doing this many times before kindergarten starts will help your child understand how the routine will work once the school bell rings.

Eating: Before school starts, check to see what time your child will have lunch. Then try to get your child on that schedule before school begins. Some schools will have the younger kids eating lunch very early in the day. By the time school is out, they are very hungry. If you find that this is the case at your school, check to see if the teacher allows a mid-day snack during the kindergarten day. Also, never underestimate a good breakfast. It is true. Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. Do not allow your child to skip it! There are many quick and healthy foods that your child will enjoy having for breakfast.

Visit: If you can, schedule a visit to the kindergarten when the kids are there. Have lunch in the cafeteria with your child so they know what to expect. Visit the classroom and meet the kindergarten and any other teachers your child may have. Many schools do have a meet the teacher night before school starts. If your child is anxious about the school, make sure you go to that. Also, do not forget to visit the fun parts of the school. Show them the playground, the gym and music room. It will help them become excited before kindergarten starts.

Self-sufficient: If your child struggles with zippers, shoe laces and snaps, the summer is the time to learn. This is a very important aspect of starting kindergarten. Children who do not feel comfortable tying his or her shoes or zipping their pants after a bathroom break may feel embarrassed. Teachers do not have the time to tie every shoe and buckle every belt. Buy your child clothing that will enable them to dress (and stay dressed) by themselves while they are at school. Also, consider how you pack your child’s lunch. It is very frustrating for a child when he or she cannot open a can of fruit, a pack of cookies or a carton of milk. Sure, teachers will be there to help, but if your child can learn to do this alone, then things run much smoother. If you are packing something in your child’s lunch that is hard to open, consider taking it out of the packaging it came in and putting it into those zipper-style baggies. Also, teach your child how to work his or her backpacks and how to put their things inside.

Safety: By now, your child probably knows about “stranger danger”, but now more than ever, it is important. If you will pick your child up from kindergarten, he or she needs to be aware of exactly how the pick up and drop off procedure will work, as well as who will be picking them up. Now is a good time for your child to learn your phone number and address. Do not stress your child out about this, but they need to be aware of their surroundings.

Learning the basics: Kids go to school to learn, but these days, kids are expected to already know the basics before starting kindergarten. Use your time in the summer to teach your child to write his or her name (first and last-there may be five Katie’s in the class). Also, your child should be counting and doing basic reading and color recognition.

With a little preparation, your child can start the kindergarten year off on a good foot.

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