Prepare your child for kindergarten success this summer

Summer is the ideal time for children who will be entering kindergarten to learn the skills needed to make a smooth, successful transition into school.

Parents who reflect on their own kindergarten experience may relish memories of treats and nap time, but a lot has changed in the years since most parents started school. Today’s young students are expected to arrive to their first day of kindergarten with a foundation of basic academic and social skills, ensuring that they are prepared to begin learning to read, write and do basic math starting on day one.

First Things First, a state organization dedicated to supporting the healthy development of children ages birth to 5, provides a comprehensive summer timeline that parents can follow to help ease their child’s transition into kindergarten before the big day:

8 weeks before
Read to your child during the summer months for a minimum of 30 minutes per day to keep literacy skills sharp, and build a foundation for academic success. While reading, converse with your child about the story’s illustrations, and ask engaging questions like “What happens next?”

Parents can also take advantage of everyday activities to create educational moments by asking simple questions about colors and shapes, making up new stories  and counting objects.

6 weeks before
Verify that your child’s immunizations are current, and schedule a visit with your child’s doctor and dentist to ensure your child starts the school year with optimal health. It’s best to schedule a meeting with your child’s teacher before the school year begins to discuss specific arrangements or accommodations that your child may require.

Provide your child with plain paper and crayons to encourage scribbles that will help build motor skills for writing. Now is also the perfect time for your child to begin a healthy sleep regimen of roughly eight hours per night, and make a habit of beginning each day with a hearty breakfast.

4 weeks before
Have a positive conversation with your child about the change that the upcoming school year will bring, and encourage discussion of feelings such as any fears or questions that your child may have. Ask your child to help you with household skills to help practice cleaning up and sharing.

Teach your child to consistently engage in proper hygiene habits like washing their hands during the appropriate times throughout the day, sneezing into their elbow instead of their hands and using the toilet by themselves.

2 weeks before
Ensure that your child knows what to expect during a typical school day. Talking with your child about common school day activities like lunch time, snacks and bathroom breaks will assist in decreasing the amount of possible anxiety that they may feel during the beginning of the school year. Sharing details will help your child feel more secure.

1 week before
As kindergarten approaches, a first day of school dress rehearsal is likely to help alleviate concerns that your child may have. Test run the entire day from beginning to end to show your child what their new routine will be like. Start the night before by selecting an outfit, and continue the following day by waking up to an alarm, getting ready for the day, eating a healthy breakfast and enjoy easy-to-open lunch snacks. Pro tip: Avoid zip lock bags and other difficult packaging that may cause your child distress. If possible, introduce your child to their teacher before the first day of school.

On the Big Day!
Start the day off with a positive and reassuring attitude. Give your child a comforting memento to carry with them throughout the day, like a family photo. Pack an extra pair of clothes in your child’s backpack in case of an accident. Though the first day of school can be an emotional, it’s best to keep an upbeat and brief goodbye. Celebrate this monumental day in your child’s educational endeavors and future success!

Download First Things First’s list of summer tips for preparing your children for kindergarten!