Preparing for Kindergarten
With temperatures soaring to near 100 degrees in July, the approaching traditional school year might be the furthest thing from a parent’s mind. But for preschoolers who will enter kindergarten in late August, the summer months are an ideal time to get ready for the move up to “big” school.
Parents can help their young children continue to learn and successfully make the transition from preschool or home to kindergarten.
Here are some things to do to help your child prepare.
• Continue to read to your child during the summer. Reading is one of the best ways to help your child’s language development. Make visits to the library and check out books about going to school.
• Practice some of the personal care skills and routines your child will need when beginning school. Button shirts, pants, coats and zip up zippers! Encourage your child to get ready in the morning and establish routines about breakfast, getting dressed, and packing a lunch.
• Make the most of everyday adventures! Trips to the grocery store, car wash, or even a walk to the nearest playground are great opportunities to point out easy words and signs and talk about what is happening in the world.
• Help your child learn to listen by giving two-or three-part directions to follow. For example, please brush your teeth, put on your pajamas, and pick out a story to read. Following directions is an important skill to master!
• Assist in simple problem-solving skills. Help your child experience general understanding that actions have both causes and effects.
• Make time have meaning so your child has an understanding of general times of day, especially morning for school and evening for bedtime.
• Talk to your child about the change and the new school. You can visit the new school, and even practice taking a bus or walking the route in advance. Invite older siblings or cousins to share their school experiences. Encourage your child to express any concerns or questions about going to school.
There is no magic list of what your child needs to be ready for school. But a child who can communicate needs and thoughts, can take turns and share, and is enthusiastic and curious will have an easier time adjusting to the new school environment.
As parents, you are your child’s first teacher. You are critical to your child’s healthy development and school readiness. Keep in mind that kindergarteners will learn a lot in their first year of school. However, if you are still concerned about whether or not your child is ready, talk to your child's pediatrician.
Marsha Basloe is executive director of Durham’s Partnership for Children, www.dpfc.net
Stacey Wilson-Norman is assistant superintendent of elementary instruction, Durham Public Schools, www.dpsnc.net