The start of a new school year is always an exciting time. Brand new school supplies, new friends, starting a new routine—everyone can appreciate the fresh start that comes with back-to-school season. The start of school can be especially bittersweet for parents of kindergarten students. It can be nerve wracking to send your child to elementary school. Regardless of what your family’s preschool experience looked like, there is something that feels extra official about starting kindergarten.
This year’s incoming kindergarteners are a unique group; they potentially had two of their preschool years disrupted or changed due to a pandemic. With all of the concerns that come along with that, many parents may also be wondering, Is my child ready for kindergarten? The phrase “kindergarten readiness” has been especially trendy the past several years, as kindergarten has grown increasingly academic. As someone who used to do kindergarten screenings and assessments, I’m here to hopefully take some of the stress out of back-to-school time for new kindergarten parents.
I think that the biggest thing that you can do to prepare your kindergartener for school is to help them understand how to function and thrive in school setting. You do not need to preview the entire curriculum. The teachers can introduce new skills, and as a parent, you can help ensure that your child is ready to learn and be a part of a classroom community.
Here are some tips:
- Talk through the day with your child. The kindergarten school day can be long compared to what young kids are used to! Talk through the drop off plan, classroom time, related arts, lunch, recess, and your method of pick up. Many teachers will give a sample schedule ahead of time to help you prepare your child for how the day will flow.
- Read books about kids going to kindergarten or starting a new school. Acknowledge any feelings of excitement, nervousness, etc. that come along with starting school.
- As you’re walking to the classroom with your child at Meet the Teacher or on the first day, point out “landmarks” for your child to look for so that they can eventually find the room on their own.
- Practice asking for help. With a new school comes a lot of unfamiliar things. Practice how to ask an adult (that’s not mom or dad) for assistance when confused.
- Practice the lunchtime routine. Make sure your child can open everything in his or her lunchbox, or if they will be eating school lunch, practice opening the milk cartons. Lunch at elementary school is short, so practice eating in a 20-25 minute time frame.
- Make sure your child is totally independent with everything involving going to the bathroom.
Starting kindergarten is such an exciting step. It is amazing to see how much children grow and learn during that year. By helping your student be prepared for school, you can ensure that the year gets off to a great start!