Ahhhhhh!!! Kindergarten. I know, things just got real, and you’re thinking, “How did kindergarten come so quickly!” My daughter completed kindergarten last year, and while everything about kindergarden is still fresh in my head I thought I would share some tips on preparing both you and your little one for this big milestone.
1. Get Comfortable with the New Surroundings of Kindergarten
New places can be really scary for kids, especially when they know their parent will not be there. Help your child become comfortable with their new surroundings by taking them to the elementary school. Go to the playground and/or field at the school, peak in the building’s windows, and point out unique things about the surroundings like any murals or school gardens. Talk to them about all the fun things they will get to do like music and art classes, and weekly visits to the library or gym. The more comfortable they are around the building the easier the first days will be.
2. Meet Other Kindergarteners
During kindergarten registration we were invited to sign up for the PTA and receive school updates. Through these updates we learned about a Kindergarten Meet Up that occurred on Saturdays at the school playground. The purpose of this group was for both child and parent to meet other kinder families in the neighborhood. This group was awesome because it allowed my daughter make some friends and for me to meet other first time kinder parents. It become even easier to get my daughter excited for school because she knew she would see her friends there. When you register your child look into any groups or other “get to know you” events like this.
3. Keep Reading
Oh my goodness y’all. I had no ideas how much reading would occur during the first year. My daughter has anywhere from 2-5 books to read for homework daily. Looking back we could have done more to prepare her. My advice would be to encourage your little one to get really comfortable with the sounds of letters. While you’re reading to them practicing sounding out words.
Use their toys, like Legos or Playdoh, to make letters. If you go to the beach draw letters in the sand. The transition to kindergarten will be much more successful if your child is familiar with writing, hearing letters and piecing together small words. This is also a great time to check out your favorite bookstore and incorporate stories about school and kindergarten. We are big fans of Splat the Cats books. If you have book recommendations, please post them below!
4. Meet the Teacher
Every school does this differently. Ours entailed going to the classroom, putting supplies in the designated location and introducing ourselves to the teacher. I’ll admit doing this with all the other parents and students at the school was a bit hectic and I ended up feeling more overwhelmed than my kid. Part of the craziness was due to me not knowing what to talk to the teacher about. When you, Meet the Teacher, ask them about:
- What your child is supposed to do upon arriving in the classroom
- What are the daily classroom activities, i.e. reading time, writing and math journals, etc…
- Do kids select lunch items
- Is good behavior rewarded
- How are concerns communicated to parents
- What is the bathroom policy
I quickly learned that trying to get specifics from my kindergartener about her school day wasn’t easy so ask the teacher how they keep parents informed on the daily/weekly activities. This is also a great time to express any concerns you have about your child coming into a new environment.
5. Sign Up for a Volunteer Position
Kindergarten can be a tough transition for both parent and child. You can make the transition a bit easier by signing up as a volunteer. I didn’t realize how much schools and teachers rely on their parent volunteers. Thus far I have seen a variety of options like:
- Homeroom Parents (organize class parties)
- Field trip Volunteers
- Reading Helpers
- Computer Volunteers
- Special Assignments (arts/crafts needed for class events)
Regardless of your availability the chance that you can help with something is pretty good. As a working mom, I would highly recommend signing up for what you can. My daughter always gets excited when she knows I am helping out. You will get a lot more information on different opportunities during the first week of school.
Our elementary school requested that our child wear tennis shoes every day, which makes sense because they’re outside or in the gym daily. Needless to say, shoes experience a lot of wear and tear. If you can, get more than one pair or budget in a new pair a few months into the year. Also, start working with your child on tying their shoes. If they don’t master it before school then pick up some kid-friendly laces that don’t require tying.
7. Get on a Schedule
A steady schedule is so important for your kiddo. A week before school starts work on your bed time and morning routine. In the evening set aside 15 minutes for homework, finalize a lights out time, and start waking them up earlier. If your able to get your child on schedule in advance then the first week of school with be a bit smoother. My daughter is not a morning person so it took us a few tries to get it right.
8. After School Care
If you’re a working mom now is the time to look into your after school options. There are a lot of choices out there between child care facilities, family/friend, or after school programs. Some of these options get filled pretty quickly so start doing your research.
9. Get Excited Y’all
Kindergarten is a big deal! Finding a backpack, lunchbox and school supplies can be a lot of fun for your child. Let them embrace their own style and it will promote excitement about the school year. There doesn’t seem to be bully issues in Kindergarten, and at 5 and 6 these kids just want to have fun so let them pick out things they think are cool.
10. Your Advice
In preparing this list I asked other kinder moms about their experiences. I invite you to post your words of wisdoms, tips, or questions for other moms out there.