I remember it vividly… that mixed feeling of hope and uncertainty, excitement and fear. You’ve been waiting for this for 5 years (or more) and now that it’s here, you aren’t sure they’re ready.
No, it’s not college, it’s Kindergarten.
But it’s no joke, my friends, this thing they call “SK.” They say today’s Kindergarten is yesterday’s First Grade. So how do we get them ready for the big K? I’m no teacher, no curriculum expert, but I have survived two kids going to Kindergarten and am happy to share the things we did the summer before to help ready them prepare.
Half of my neighborhood sends their kids to the school where my son would be starting Kindergarten in the Fall, but it hit me right around Preschool Graduation that we didn’t know but a few that would be in the same grade. So I started asking around, gathering names of moms and kids who would be starting Kindergarten with my child, and before I knew it, I had a pretty decent list. I called the moms and invited them and their kids to a play date so we could all meet. We had our first get-together at a friend’s house and while the kids played and made ice cream sundaes, the moms talked, got to know each other, and swapped info. When it was my daughter’s turn, the group met at the park and then a few weeks later at the pool.
By the time August came around, both of my kids had guaranteed themselves some familiar faces, if not friends, and I had a new group of moms I could go to for advice, information, or just to vent. So take my advice and make sure that introducing your child to some other soon-to-be Kindergartners is high on your Summer Bucket List! They (and you) will be glad you did!
Sticking To A Schedule
For most children, Kindergarten is their first experience going to school all day, five days a week. It’s enough to make anyone exhausted, but for a child who’s not yet accustomed to that kind of intensity, it’s s a one-way ticket to meltdown city! The earlier you can start easing them into their new schedule, the easier they’ll have it come August. Practice getting them up earlier, have them dress and eat breakfast, just as they would on a normal school day. Plan an activity like swimming, errands, a play date with friends, or a trip to a local attraction for the morning time. Try to do snacks and lunch at consistent times and give them time to read or work on their skills in the afternoon. One of my favorite items that helped my kids learn and get accustomed to their schedule was this “I Can Do It Daily Checklist,” purchased from Amazon. They loved moving the Velcro squares after they completed a morning task like brushing their teeth, eating breakfast, or putting on their shoes.
I know it’s summer and a schedule is the last thing we want to adhere to, but aiming to do this even a day or two each week will allow your child to be able to adapt to their new school day timeline much quicker.
Aside from the intensified curriculum, Kindergarten also demands an independence from our kids that they may or may not be used to. If you’ve ever volunteered in a lunchroom full of Kindergartners, you can vouch for the number of hands that go up for assistance with cheese sticks, juice boxes, and yogurt tubes alike. Don’t let your child waste precious minutes in the lunchroom waiting on help when they could be helping themselves. The summer before my son entered Kindergarten, I packed him a lunchbox full of things he liked and that he might be taking to school in the Fall and took him on a picnic in our backyard. I asked him to try his best to open everything on his own and if he couldn’t, I helped him learn how. It took three picnics before he could successfully do it, but it gave me comfort knowing he was starting Kindergarten with that skill set under his belt.
And speaking of belts, that brings up another important skill: dressing themselves. While you or another parent may be willing to help them get dressed in the mornings, it’s important that your soon-to-be Kindergartner knows how to redress themselves after a bathroom break. Practice buttoning and unbuttoning, zippering and unzippering, until they can comfortably do it on their own. If they wear uniforms and require a belt, I strongly recommend looking into the Myself Belts. These Velcro belts can be closed with one hand and come in tons of stylish designs for both boys and girls!
And if they do not already know how to tie their own shoes, this summer is a great time to teach them! Visit Krokotak.com to find a free printable you can print on cardboard for your child to color and then use to learn how to tie their shoelaces.
One of the best ways to prepare your child for Kindergarten is to read to them every day or night. If you love to read, chances are that they will, too! Some of my kids’ favorites around that age were The Night Before Kindergarten, Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come, and Off To Kindergarten. Reading these to them in the summer months before school starts will help ease their anxiety and get them excited about what Kindergarten will be like for them. If they didn’t learn to read in Preschool (and that’s completely normal), starting the process with the help of the BOB Books by Bobby Lynn Maslen is a no-brainer.
You can find them at any bookstore or check them out at the library. These were a game-changer for us with my daughter and it is no surprise to me that they’ve been the #1 Learning to Read program for over 40 years!
Lastly, help give your child a head start by making sure they have mastered some of the readiness skills before they begin their Kindergarten year. These include but are not limited to:
- Writing their name (first and last)
- Reciting their personal info (first and last name, address, and phone number)
- Counting to 20
- Identifying shapes and colors
- Writing their numbers to ten
- Recognizing and writing the alphabet, both upper and lowercase
Your child can practice these skills with workbooks purchased from places like The Knowledge Tree, Target, Amazon, and even The Dollar Tree. Make sure to get age-appropriate books and have them work on 1-2 pages a day until they are comfortable with a concept. Websites like ABCmouse.com, PBSKids.org, and Starfall.com are also great ways to help your child learn in a fun and rewarding way!
Other helpful advice
If you haven’t already registered your child for the school they will be attending, make sure to do that soon. Each school has a unique process and you can learn more about it on their website. As an entering Kindergartner, your child will also be required to get shots to keep them up to date on their vaccines. But most of all, enjoy your last summer with your child before they enter “REAL school.”