The transition from preschool to kindergarten can be scary.
In preschool, students are easing into an academic setting for the first time, where learning is play-based and relaxed. It is a wonderful and warm first educational experience – but can sometimes make the shift to kindergarten feel overwhelming. Kindergarten is a time when students learn independence and the skills necessary for success throughout their education. However, children should enter kindergarten with a solid foundation already set. But don’t worry – there are plenty of ways to ensure your little one is ready for school before they step through the door.
Help your child strengthen independence at home.
Tasks as simple as getting dressed on their own, cleaning up after playtime, and putting books back on the shelf make a huge difference. As classes grow in size and children are left to their own devices in the lunchroom and beyond, these skills will prepare them for various situations. In addition, a sense of responsibility will come in handy as your child progresses throughout grade school.
Read aloud every day.
Strong readers make strong learners in all areas. Even if your child is entering kindergarten without reading independently, an interest in stories will set them up for future success. Consistent exposure to books of all genres also develops a child’s ability to identify high-frequency words. Finally, and most importantly, reading aloud to your child builds their retention and capacity for recall. Be sure to ask them questions about the story to encourage attention to detail and build awareness of story structure. You can also incorporate story maps or story cubes to make the process more interactive.
Kindergarten may be the first time your child has to adhere to a strict regimen at school. However, when they are unprepared for this change, it can result in unnecessary stress or disengagement in the classroom. Creating set schedules at home will prepare your child for the same expectations in school. Implementing a consistent bedtime routine or setting aside the same 30 minutes to read each day are great places to start.
Talk to your child and ask open-ended questions.
Social and reasoning skills are just as crucial to a child’s academic success as reading and writing. Having lengthy conversations and asking detailed questions invite your child to think about topics more deeply. These types of discussions also build vocabulary and language as a whole. You can go one step further and use this time to ask your child how they feel about kindergarten and a new environment. Emotional awareness is also essential in shaping a well-rounded student.
Build upon your child’s strengths.
In the months leading up to kindergarten, make sure to acknowledge and bolster your child’s strengths. For example, if they are an imaginative thinker, incorporate creative exercises into your at-home learning. If they are a critical thinker, add comprehension activities or word problems to get their minds working. When you acknowledge a child’s strengths and work with them at their level and pace, their confidence grows. Confidence is critical when it comes to future progress. After all, believing in yourself is half the battle. If a child feels they are strong and capable, their abilities will only continue to improve.
Preparing for kindergarten can be scary, but it can also be inspiring. Your child is capable of more than they know! A little preparation goes a long way in making each student feel comfortable and ready to take on kindergarten, one day at a time.
And, to help your child along the way, check out some of our favorite stories about starting school – or even just starting anew!
- A Tiger Tail (or What Happened to Anya on Her First Day of School) by M. Boldt
- All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman
- School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex and Christian Robinson
- The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael Lopez
- My First Day by Phung Nguyen Quang and Huynh Kim Lien