a row of very young students sitting on the floor and looking happily at something at the front of the classroom

How To Prepare Your Child For Kindergarten

Starting kindergarten is a huge step forward for your child, both academically and socially. Kindergarten is where they really start to figure out their place in the world as they start to become their own person, separate from their parents. 

This part of your child’s life—and your own—comes with a great many questions. Here, we’ll discuss what you can do to prepare your child for kindergarten and how you can best support them as they take this monumental next step in their education. 

How Can I Help My Child Prepare for Kindergarten?

1. Establish Routines

Talking with your child about what they can expect and what will be expected of them in kindergarten can help you understand what their worries are and how to address them before the all-important first day of school. This is especially helpful if kindergarten is their first exposure to a structured school environment.

2. Practice

One way to help ease your child into the school year is by doing a few practice runs before the first day of school. This way, they have an understanding of everything that needs to be done in the morning in order for them to have a successful school day, and the shift in routine and expectations won’t be as dramatic on the first day as it might otherwise be.

Want to know what to expect at LVDS’ Kinderschool? Check out our program here

3. Develop Self Care Skills

Role-play common situations such as going to the bathroom, washing hands, and dressing on their own well before school begins so that those skills are ingrained in their daily habits. 

4. Teach Accountability

Have your child pick up and put away their own toys, choose their own outfit for the day and get dressed on their own, fill their water bottles, and carry their own backpack and lunch to and from school. Set reasonable expectations for your child to learn responsibility. Let them complete the tasks you give them, even if they take longer than you would. Give them a chance to be responsible as you requested and praise them when they complete each task. 

What Should My Child Know Before Kindergarten?

There are certain basics that children starting kindergarten should know: if your child can recognize their name, knows the alphabet/letters, use scissors, hold a pencil properly, count to 10, and dress themselves, they’ll be ahead of the curve.

Is My Child Emotionally Ready for Kindergarten?

Your child’s emotional readiness can be effectively measured by answering these questions:

-Are they able to play cooperatively? 

-Do they show interest in spending time with peers?

-Are they able to share appropriately?

-Do they show enthusiasm toward learning? Are they eager to explore and discover? Are they comfortable asking questions? 

-Are they okay with risk-taking? Do they have the capacity to persevere when things become difficult?

-Are they able to communicate their needs to teachers or peers?

-Can they sit and listen for an extended period of time? Much of kindergarten is spent in storytime, but sitting quietly still for long periods is not a skill many five-year-olds have spent time mastering.

-Do they have the desire to be independent? 

-Do they have trouble separating from their parents?

It is not a requirement of kindergarten that your child begins with all of these skills under their belt, but the answers to these questions should skew positively more than negatively. These are not the only measures of emotional readiness, however, these questions do raise many valid indicators of your child’s progress toward emotional readiness for kindergarten.

How Do I Prepare My Child for the First Day of Kindergarten?

The best way to assist your child in having a great first day is to establish changes in routine and expectations in advance. You don’t need to spend all summer drilling your child on their first day; it is wise, however, to go through the new morning routine, your expectations and hopes for them, and make sure you give them lots of opportunities to ask you any questions they may have in the few weeks leading up to the big day. 

Especially if they express fears, doubts, or other concerns, it’s important that your child knows that you are in their corner and that you are there for them, and that you are proud of them and excited as they move towards their kindergarten year. 

What Should Parents Do On the First Day of School?

Above all else, relax.

The best support you can give your child is not to be a nervous wreck yourself. Project confidence and positivity, even if you’re falling apart inside. Your child needs to know that you support them, love them, and are proud of them, so try to swallow back the tears until you’re safely back in the car after drop-off, and give your child your full support by relaxing and taking it easy. If your child sees you lose control, they may follow suit. Staying relaxed and projecting confidence gives your child excellent behavior to model and sets appropriate expectations. 

At What Point Should Parents Consider Seeking Professional Help?

If your child is diagnosed with disabilities, has been diagnosed with mental health disorders, shows clear signs of emotional distress, becomes very easily overwhelmed, experiences acute levels of stress, or has undergone significant trauma, it may be wise to consult with a pediatric counselor before starting kindergarten. Since children in these circumstances may have a difficult time processing such an incredible change in routine and structure, a therapist can help you to approach your child in a non-threatening way about these changes, and possibly even help your child understand the positive ramifications of beginning kindergarten.

Of course, if at any time, for any reason, you feel that you need to seek professional help, that is entirely your decision to make. If, however, your child is acting out more than usual or feeling the stress of starting kindergarten more than you did, professional help is likely not necessary. Some children manage these changes better than others, and even kids who usually do a good job with change might find kindergarten particularly scary or daunting. If this is the case, the best thing you can do for your child is keep open the lines of communication and talk with them regularly about how they are feeling. Make sure they know that you love them and that they can rely on you, and that you fully support them. Sometimes a little parental reassurance is all your child needs to gain the confidence to greet kindergarten head-on. Within a few days to a few weeks, most children adjust to kindergarten just fine.

Finally, remember to keep communication lines open with their teacher. Ask how your child is doing, if there’s anything you need to be concerned about or if they have any questions for you. Your child’s teacher is the closest person to you that they have in their classroom, so keeping in communication regularly with them is important, too. 

The Excitement of Kindergarten

Preparing your child for their first day of kindergarten is such an extraordinary and exciting time for your child, your family, your child’s teacher and classroom, and for all of the other children, too! Whether your child’s first day is with LVDS or at another elementary school, the first day jitters will be over before you know it, and kindergarten will just be part of your family’s routine not too long after.

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