Beginning kindergarten can be an intimidating time for children and parents alike. As a parent of young children, I can relate to the fear of putting your child in a new situation or environment and wondering whether or not they will be happy and successful. Being a kindergarten teacher, I can give you a few tips in preparing your child for kindergarten, so that they can be successful, and therefore, HAPPY, which is all that really matters!
Kindergarten readiness is so much more than learning ABCs and 123s. A child who enters kindergarten knowing letter sounds and recognizing numbers and quantities is great, but that alone is not what makes a child successful in school. First and foremost, your child needs to have formed a secure attachment to you, meaning they are confident in knowing that when you leave you will be coming back and that they are okay while you are gone. If kindergarten is the first time that your child will be away from you for long periods of time, you should prepare him/her for that by giving many opportunities beforehand to be away from you (in good hands of course).
Secondly, you should spend a lot of time over the summer teaching them how to “do it themselves”. We do too much for our young children, and this hinders their growth! With independence comes confidence, and with confidence comes success! Encourage your child to pour her own water in her cup, get himself dressed, handle bathroom business on her own, and clean up his own messes. They really are capable of doing so much more than we give them credit for!
Finally, guiding your child in developing the social skills they need in interacting with peers appropriately and efficiently is of utmost importance. Schedule play dates with other children, and encourage your child to play with other children at the park or pool. Expect there to be conflicts when children are playing together and take those times to guide them in resolving the issues. Model positive communication skills to your child, and respect his feelings so that he learns to respect the feelings of others! Kindness is everything!
It is so important that your child’s first school experience is a good one, as it sets the stage for the rest of their school-aged years. Spending the time and effort getting them ready for kindergarten will also help in getting you ready to send them off! Have fun!
Ashley Schilling is a mom to two children, ages 5 and 3, and teaches ages 3-6 at Sea Pines Montessori. She holds a master of early childhood education from Presbyterian College.