How to Help Your Child Get Ready for Kindergarten
Help Your Child Get Along With Others
Kindergarten is a time to meet new children and make new friends. Reduce your child's anxiety over being around new children. Set up play dates or attend activities where she can be around other children her age. Play games with her so she can practice turn-taking skills. Talk with her about how to properly solve conflicts.
Accept Your Child's Feelings
Kindergarten teachers expect your child to use words to express his feelings. Use a variety of words to express your own emotions so that he will learn to do the same. Tell him it's okay to feel angry as well as excited. Show him how to express his feelings so no one gets hurt.
Let Your Child Do Things by Herself
In Kindergarten, your child will be expected to take care of her own personal needs and belongings. Teach her simple tasks and then let her do them on her own. Encourage her to put on her own coat, put her shoes away, and wash her own hands. Invite her to do simple daily chores that she will enjoy. Praise her for her help.
Play and Build Things Together
Your child will draw, write, and use scissors in Kindergarten. Help him build the muscles in his fingers and hands. Provide him with crayons and paper, puzzles, and small toys to take apart and put together again. Build with blocks and join him in pretend play so he can pretend to write food orders and dress himself in a costume.
Help Your Child Follow Directions
Throughout the day in Kindergarten, your child will need to follow directions. Give your child tasks that require her to follow 1-2 step directions. Ask her to clean her face with a napkin. Ask her to pick out a shirt and then put int on. Make up direction games to play such as "Turn around two times and then jump up".
Read With Your Child Everyday
Reading to your child will help him learn how to read! Share a variety of books based on your child's interests. Ask him questions about the story. Connect what you read to his own life so stories become meaningful to him. Read other things with him such as street signs, magazines, and food labels. Read what you write to him.
Learn About Kindergarten Registration
Contact your neighborhood school to see what enrollment paperwork is required. Ask about deadlines, orientations, and available transportation if your child needs to ride a bus to school. Find out if there is a dress code, or any other expectations that you need to know.
Visit Your Child's New School
Take your child to visit her new school the summer before she starts Kindergarten. Drive or walk to the school. Play on the playground. Talk about routines, such as what to expect during lunch time, at recess, and using the bathroom. Some schools offer free lunches during the summer, or use of the library. Ask if you can have a tour of the school or a peek in your child's classroom.
You are Your Child's First Teacher
Help your child prepare for Kindergarten by turning everyday activities into times for her to play, learn, and feel good about herself. Remember, your child develops at her own unique pace. Kindergarten is a place where she will continue to learn!
Keep Your Child Healthy
Children who eat nutritious foods, are healthy, and get plenty of rest are able to focus and learn at school. Provide your child with healthy snacks and meals. Schedule regular medical and dental check-ups for your child. Exercise daily with her. Play games that encourage her to run, climb, jump, catch a ball, and dance.
Talk With Your Child
In Kindergarten, your child will need to be able to express his needs and wants, follow directions, and communicate with others. Talk with your child every day to promote his listening and conversational skills. Ask him questions and teach him new words. Talk about what he likes and dislikes and answer his questions.
Create a School Routine
Kindergartners need about 11 hours of sleep each night. Create a regular time for your child to relax and go to bed. Start waking her at the time she will need to wake during the school year. Set up a special place where she will put her backpack after school every day. Practice choosing outfits the night before to help make the mornings smoother.
Read Books About Starting Kindergarten
Visit your local public library to check about books about a typical Kindergarten day. Your child might enjoy: "Froggy Goes to School" by Jonathan London and "Mouse's First Day of School" by Lauren Thompson.
Concerned About Your Child's Development?
Talk with your child's health care provider, chld care provider, and preschool teacher if you have concerns about your child's development and readiness skills for Kindergarten.
This information was compiled by Mona Berkey, Iowa State University, and Judy Dahlke, retired Kindergarten teacher and current RRSC Family Literacy Coordinator
For suggested children's books about Kindergarten and more ideas to share with your child, download the "Countdown to Kindergarten" parent handout.