The summer has passed by more quickly than you thought, and now you may be panicking because you are sending a child to kindergarten. Are they ready? Are you ready? Kindergarten is one of the largest milestones in a young child’s life, and you want to ensure you and your child transition smoothly.
I’m here to tell you right now — your child WILL pass kindergarten and will do it successfully, regardless of the preparation.
I interviewed Summers M., a kindergarten teacher in Richland District 2. She graciously answered some questions about preparing for the big start to school. As a kindergarten teacher, she offers important insight and suggestions for making the jump to kindergarten.
What are the 3-5 MOST important things a parent can do to prepare their child for kindergarten (in the month before school starts?)
Before school begins you could visit the school and take a tour. Stop by the important places — kindergarten hall, cafeteria, etc. Also, practice getting in/out of car seats so the car line will be less stressful when starting your day, or visit the bus stop and talk about the procedures for riding a bus.
Other ideas would be to have your child practice writing their name with a pencil, as well as practice counting objects and counting aloud. And most importantly, read books daily and ask questions as you read the books. There are simple things you can do to help develop pre-reading skills while reading together. A few examples are: pointing to each word on the page as you read, having your child point to the words as you read and asking how many words are on a page.
Where do you see parents putting a lot of unnecessary effort?
I think we are all guilty of this, but worrying too much about things that don’t truly matter. Things like having the perfect outfits, shoes, hair styles, lunch boxes and sparkly school supplies.
Additionally, do not panic if your children don’t know their letters, numbers or are not reading. Children will be assessed prior to school and placed appropriately. There is a large variation in skill level for children entering school for the first year, but by the end of the year, your child will be caught up to where they need to be to enter first grade.
Can you recommend any good books that can help prepare mom and dad for the first week?
The best children’s book I know is The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing. Otherwise, I think books for parents would vary depending on the child’s characteristics, temperament and personality.
Do you have any advice or tips for a first time Kindergarten parent?
Trust and talk with your child’s teacher often. We love your children just like they are our own and we truly want the best for each and every child in our classroom.
Keep the morning goodbye short, sweet and positive. Some students are very anxious the first few days and it helps when parents remain calm and upbeat. Children are able to sense when you are stressed or sad, and it affects their temperament if you display these emotions.
What are some great ideas if parents want to bring in a gift for their teacher the first week?
The best gift a teacher can receive is having support from parents and knowing they are there to help you. If parents can help out in the classroom that’s great, but not everyone is able to. For those who can’t and still want to show their love and support, there are other ways to really help out their teacher. For me, the worst part of preparing for my day is making lunch. When a parent offers to bring me lunch that is a wonderful gift. Coffee is great too! As far as a present, I can’t speak for all teachers but things we can use in the classroom are very helpful: pens, stationary, tissues, Clorox wipes, hand soap, etc.
Any other tips or pointers for moms and dads?
Just try not to worry! And feel free to talk to your child’s teacher if you have any questions, thoughts or concerns. I am huge on communication and being on the same page with parents to ensure things remain consistent for children. Fostering a great relationship, and talking open and honestly, helps everyone involved.
Other tips for once the school year starts:
- Bring a snack when you pick your child up from school. Many of the kindergartners eat lunch very early, so by the end of the day they are very hungry.
- Be prepared for homework. Yes, in kindergarten. Many schools give daily homework, even to the kindergartners.
- Plan for rest time. School is going to wear them out. Especially those children who have never been in an all-day program or are still used to taking a nap.
Good luck as you begin this very exciting and sometimes scary adventure into education. Remember these tips and try to enjoy it!