How do I prepare my child for kindergarten?
Real Mom Problem
“My son is turning five and I enrolled him in kindergarten. I don't want him to go through culture shock on the first day of school. How can I help him prepare?”
- 1. Establishing home routines for things like mealtime and playtime can teach children to adjust to school life
- 2. Play dates and organized activities can help children learn important socialization skills before school starts
- 3. Kids can learn how to listen and sit quietly by attending story time at the library, or other similar events
- 4. Enrolling your child in sports, dance, or other activities and classes can teach them how to take instruction from another adult
- 5. Speak to your child about the fun they'll have in school and get them excited about the experience
- 6. Some moms feel preschool is unnecessary while others believe it helps children better prepare for kindergarten
Real Mom Solutions
As a mom, you might not ever feel ready to send your little one off to kindergarten, but there's plenty you can do to help your child prepare for the big day. Find great tips below from moms who've been in your shoes (and survived).
Moms Share What Kids Need to Know
Socialization will come, the biggest prep needs to be his learning. He needs to know his ABCs and 123s and how to write letters and his name in proper upper/lowercase form. He needs to know certain sight words and how to use scissors and hold a pencil properly.
He needs to know his name and how to write it. Being able to do things himself in the bathroom is important. He needs to at least know how to count out 10 items, know his ABCs, be able to stay in his chair, and follow directions. You can get all kinds of workbooks at the store to help him get ready.
Kids need to know a lot more before entering kindergarten than they used to back when I went. They basically need to know EVERYTHING they used to learn in kindergarten BEFORE they get there. They now teach the old first grade stuff in kindergarten.
Can he write his name? Does he know his ABCs, and can he recognize them? Can he count to ten? Does he know his colors? Does he know his phone number and address? These are all the things they asked my daughters when they registered for kindergarten.
No Preschool, No Worries Say Some Moms
My son never attended preschool and was just fine once he started kindergarten. I did teach him lots of things before he started kindergarten, though. I also took him to story time hour at our local book store, took him to the local park to play with other kids, and we enrolled him in piano which really helped with learning to follow instruction from someone else other than me or my husband.
He will be just fine as long as you help him each day when he gets home from school. He will learn that he will eat at lunch or go hungry, and he will learn that fast! I know a little boy who started kindergarten at age five with NO other school experience. He could not recognize letters or write his name. But do you know what...by the end of the school year he was READING! He could tell time, he could count to 100, etc. Just breathe and let him be a child. School will come soon enough! There's no right or wrong way to prepare him, just make sure he knows that it's okay to make mistakes and have FUN!
Pre-K as a prerequisite for kindergarten is a relatively new concept. He will learn all his socialization when he gets to kindergarten, that is essentially what this first year is for, so don't worry mama. If your son can listen and follow basic instructions he will be just fine. Years ago when my son registered for kindergarten the teacher only wanted to know if he could use scissors, hold a pencil properly, draw a big circle, and tie his shoes. That was it! Story time at the local library is a great suggestion. Sitting quietly, listening, and keeping hands to oneself is an important skill for success at that age.
You need to relax. He'll get the socialization, good and bad, by the kids around him and a soft punishment from the teacher. You'll be notified of any issues. You can over-stress a child by talking about the future too much. My son did not do pre-K. He stated kindergarten one day after his fifth birthday. All I did in preparation was get him a tour of the school the year beforehand. Call the school and ask for a tour the day he is being assessed for readiness.?It will calm everyone down if you do.
My son was the youngest in his class and I worried about putting him in kindergarten; that he wasn't ready. Fact is he loved it. He did not have any preschool or daycare experience, and he adjusted just fine! If the teachers feel he needs help in some areas they will tell you and they will work with him. If they feel at the end of the year he shouldn't advance to first grade then so be it. You'd be amazed at what these little humans can do.
Neither of my daughters attended preschool, and they both thrived in kindergarten. I wouldn't worry so much about it; if he has basic skills, he should do just fine.
These Moms Suggest Social Time
Check and see if there is story time at your local library or bookstore. Has he been left with a babysitter? If not I would try to get out and leave him for an hour or two so he gets used to taking direction from others.
Other than the basics (recognizing ABCs, identifying his name and possibly writing it, etc.) all you need to focus on is interactions. Take him to the park as much as possible, take him to neighbor's houses, join playgroups, etc. Even if he's simply around other adults - he needs those new experiences outside of the comfort of his own home.
Take him to the park. Let him run with other kids.
Check Out More Tips from Moms Like You
Make learning a part of life. Play with learning the alphabet, counting, colors, and shapes. Read, read, read to him. Take him to library story times, sing songs with him, have him watch TV where learning is emphasized, let him play with other children in the parks and pool.
As far as getting him used to following a schedule, I would make a daily chart with times of day and activities planned. It's a great tool for kids! It helps them prepare for what's coming up, learn the concept of time, and gets them used to transitions.
Do what you can with the resources you have, but don't stress. I promise you, he WILL catch up pretty quickly. Children are naturally social, so when put into the situation, they tend to adapt to it.
I would ask the school if they have a list of things kids need to know before kindergarten. Our school sent one to all the parents.
Most public schools observe their emotional development in addition to the academic. His teacher will be able to let you know how he is adapting to school within the first few weeks.
Talk to him about school as much as possible. Talk to him about the differences, the activities, and listening to the teacher. You'd be surprised how far a little mental prep will go with kids.