Kindergarten Summer Prep: Getting Ready for Real School

Today’s kindergarten experience is more academically driven than the play-based learning of years past. Structured classwork with academic prep for standardized testing has taken the place of lengthy recess time, creative curriculum, and social development. The summer prior to kindergarten provides a good opportunity to prep your child for the school year:

Open Up the Conversation

Start talking to your little one about their new school and what the daily routine of kindergarten will look like. Chat with other parents from your school to get a sense of what to expect, or call the school and ask to talk a kindergarten teacher. Talk about the first day and how that will play out. The more details you can give your child, the less worried they’ll be. On the other hand, some children may get anxious if you speak too much about it. Watch their body language and listen for verbal cues that they’ve had enough.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Run through the daily school routine several times before school starts. Start by practicing the nighttime routine before the school day. Ask your child to set their backpack by the door and set out their clothes. When the alarm goes off the next morning, explore which rituals work best. Will they eat in their PJs and get dressed after eating, or vice versa? Will they be expected to make their bed before leaving for school? Pay close attention to how they respond and make adjustments.

How about the car or bus routine? Even if you are driving them, you’ll want to do a trial run and actually drive to the school to see how much time it will take in traffic, which may be slightly longer once school actually starts. If they’re riding the bus, make sure they’re at the stop on time, and talk about bus safety. Assure your child that you or a trusted adult will be there when they depart and come back home.

Conducting these trial runs are more effective than just talking about them, and should ease their anxiety and build excitement at the same time.

Summer School

The first nine weeks are significant in kindergarten. Your teacher will follow Common Core Standards and explain where your child should be at the end of the nine weeks. You can give them a head start by carving out some time a few days a week prior to kindergarten. Have fun with it and call it school time. Read with your child and build your own short lessons by giving them “homework” that includes recognizing and writing upper and lower case letters and numbers. Colors, shapes, and reading simple three letter works are also good topics to work on.

I’m a Big Kid Now!

Can your child zip up their coat, open a lunchbox, and button their sweater? Tying shoes is a little trickier and may take some time. You may want to consider Velcro shoes for the first half of kindergarten. You probably help your child more than you think at home so it’s a good time to practice and make sure your child can do these simple tasks on their own. It’s time consuming if a teacher has to do it throughout the course of the day.

Is your child attached to a favorite teddy bear or blankie? Now it is the time to start phasing them out because they probably won’t be allowed at school. Make it a rite of passage and celebrate it with a special reward.

Lights Out!

Waiting until the night before school starts to begin a new bedtime ritual will create a sleepy kid, a stressed out mom, and a frantic first day. The National Sleep Foundation recommends starting a school bedtime ritual two to three weeks before the first day. The most productive and gentle way of doing this is to have a set bedtime and wake-up time that allows for enough sleep (kindergarteners needs about 11-13 hours), then start pushing back the bedtime and wake-up time 15 minutes earlier every two to three nights until the sleep schedule is suitable for your child’s needs.

What are some steps you plan to take to prepare your child for kindergarten? Share your game plan with us!

Tags : school   kindergarten   milestones   

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