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 about being around new children. Set up play dates or attend activities where they can be around other children their age. Play games with your child so they can practice turn-taking skills. Talk with your child about how to properly solve conflicts.
Accept Your Child's Feelings
Kindergarten teachers expect your child to use words to express their feelings. Use a variety of words to express your own emotions so that they will learn to do the same. Tell them it's okay to feel angry as well as excited. Show your child how to express their feelings so no one gets hurt.
Let Your Child Do Things by Herself
In Kindergarten, your child will be expected to take care of their own personal needs and belongings. Teach them simple tasks and then let them do them on their own. Encourage your child to put on their own coat, put their shoes away, and wash their own hands. Invite them to do simple daily chores that they will enjoy. Praise your child for their help.
Play and Build Things Together
Your child will draw, write, and use scissors in Kindergarten. Help them build the muscles in their fingers and hands. Provide your child with crayons and paper, puzzles, and small toys to take apart and put together again. Build with blocks and join your child in pretend play so they can pretend to write food orders and dress 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 them to follow 1-2 step directions. Ask your child to clean their face with a napkin. Ask them to pick out a shirt and then put it 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 them learn how to read! Share a variety of books based on your child's interests. Ask them questions about the story. Connect what you read to your child's own life so stories become meaningful to them. Read other things with your child such as street signs, magazines, and food labels. Read what you write to them.
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 their new school the summer before they start 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 (or libraries) offer free lunches during the summer. 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 them to play, learn, and feel good about themself. Remember, your child develops at their own unique pace. Kindergarten is a place where they 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 them. Play games that encourage them to run, climb, jump, catch a ball, and dance.
Talk With Your Child
In Kindergarten, your child will need to be able to express their needs and wants, follow directions, and communicate with others. Talk with your child every day to promote their listening and conversational skills. Ask your child questions and teach them new words. Talk about what they like and dislike and answer their 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 your child at the time they will need to wake during the school year. Set up a special place where they will put their 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 out 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 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.