Tips For Kindergarten
The big day is almost here! Across the nation, first-time kindergarten parents wait with butterflies in their stomachs for their little ones to start school for the first time. If you’re one of them, how can you make sure your child is ready for this step?
While some children exhibit anxiety about attending school, most look forward to the next level in becoming a big boy or girl. By helping your children develop physically, mentally and emotionally beforehand, they’ll tackle whatever their new adventure brings their way. Here are 10 tips for ensuring your child has the best first day of kindergarten ever — all without losing your mind!
1. Remember, Learning Starts at Home
Parents play the most significant role in their child’s education. However, the realities of the gig economy mean many parents lack the time they’d like to use for getting more involved in the process.
Fortunately, you don’t need to spend much time to get involved. You can seek out schools with quality before- and after-school programs that offer a safe place for extending learning and socializing. During the toddler years, practice dropping off your child at supervised activities like summer library programs for an hour or two at a time to acclimate them to acting independently.
2. Review All Documentation and Check It Twice
Every state has different vaccination requirements for entering public school. Make sure your child is up to date on their shots, especially in areas experiencing measles outbreaks.
Furthermore, make sure to read and complete all the paperwork thoroughly. Ask questions if you don’t understand. Will your children need to wear specific uniforms? What are the restrictions, if any, for bagged lunches? For example, some schools ban foods containing peanuts due to allergies.
3. Set up a Private Time to Meet the Teacher
The best time to meet the teacher is not the first day of school. They’ll likely have a full plate with their new charges. Instead, call or email them to arrange a private conference time.
Prepare a list of questions ahead of the appointment. When you meet, keep the conference focused on your child and their unique needs. Maintain an open mind — your child’s teacher may have suggestions for ways you can bolster their learning at home.
4. Help Kids Build Social Skills Through Play
Meeting new friends excites some children, but makes others feel anxious. Before kindergarten starts, take your child to the park or playground regularly. Encourage them to interact with other children.
Unstructured play helps kids embrace social cues. They learn skills like how to take turns, how to listen and how to share their ideas. And because playgrounds know no dividing lines between race or socioeconomic levels, such play helps kids appreciate diversity, too.
5. Give Your Child Simple Sorting Tasks
Children need both fine and gross motor skills to succeed in kindergarten. When your children are toddlers, practice stacking blocks together. Let children run, jump and skip to develop tiny muscles.
As they grow more advanced, have children help you with sorting tasks to teach them logical thinking. You can have them separate laundry with you or arrange their books on the shelf in a way that helps them find favorite reads with ease.
6. Play Store With Your Child
You can lay the foundation for math and economics by letting your child play store. Take various objects from your home, and allow your child to “sell” them to other family members using fake money. This game teaches them rudimentary addition and subtraction — you can give them $2 for a $1 item and have them give you change — as well as providing a background for later lessons in opportunity cost.
7. Read for 20 Minutes or More Daily
Nothing improves literacy like reading to your child. Indeed, some women begin reading to their unborn baby while they’re still in the womb.
Strive to read with your child for at least 20 minutes daily. As they begin recognizing certain words, praise them for their accomplishments. Letting them select the books they want to read as they grow older helps to foster a lifelong love of reading for recreation.
8. Make Their First Day Special for Them
You want your child to look forward to their first day, so make it exciting for them! Allow them to pick out a new outfit to wear for the day. Pack a special note of encouragement or perhaps a small gift in their lunchbox. Surprise them with their favorite meal when they return home — anything you can do to build the impression that learning is fun.
9. Exude Confidence and Positivity
Yes, you might have butterflies in your stomach, too — but don’t let your child know your fears. When discussing the first day of school with your child, exude confidence. If you adored kindergarten, let them know this.
If your child exhibits separation anxiety at dropoff time, take a hard pass on telling them to “get over it” or “grow up.” Doing so increases fears and makes your child feel ashamed. Instead, follow the teacher’s lead — some prefer if you stay in the classroom for a short period, while others incorporate strategies like pairing students to encourage friendships.
10. Give Them Time to Share Their Wonderful Day
Chances are, if you’ve prepared, your little one will arrive home brimming with excitement. They can’t wait to tell you about their big day. Honor that time and listen!
Even if you don’t always eat dinner as a family, make an exception — and make your child the guest of honor. Let them tell you all about their experiences, and express your approval and encouragement. They’ll wake up looking forward to returning to school the next day.
Making the Most of Your Child’s First Day at the Big K
The first day of kindergarten marks a significant milestone for children and parents alike. By following these tips, you can make the transition as smooth as possible.