8 Ways to Prepare Your Kid for the First Day of Kindergarten

With a few simple routine changes and fun activities, you can be sure your kindergartener is ready for the first day of school no matter where it's going to take place.

While the start of every new school year is a special occasion, the first day of kindergarten may be the biggest learning milestone there is. That's because your child is about to embark on a learning adventure that will go beyond their ABCs; the classroom will also help them boost their social and emotional skills too. Kindergarten is a powerful experience that can help set kids up for academic success, create lasting friendships, and help teach kids a love of learning that can last a lifetime.

There are many ways parents can help their kids ready for their first day of kindergarten. We talked with education experts and teachers to find out the best ways to prepare your kid for the first day of kindergarten, here are their top tips.

Meet the Teacher

It's important for your child to visit their new school if they can, so check with your school to see if it's a possibility this year. An in-person visit will help them feel prepared for this big change in their little lives, and it will also help to alleviate fears about knowing where the bathroom is and where to put their belongings.

Anna Taylor, an early years and elementary teacher who works with parents through her company, 'Naturally Learning with Anna,' also suggests that parents teach their child a very simple question once they know their teacher's name and the name of their teaching assistant. "I explicitly teach my little ones the phrase, 'Please, can you help me?'" she explains so that know who they can go to if they need help.

Read About The First Day Of School

Make your book choices all about school preparedness in the run up to September and your little scholar will feel ready to join in all the kindergarten fun. Some great choices according to the teachers we asked include:

man helping boy put on shoes on the floor
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Practice Getting Ready

September can be a tricky month for parents as kids have to adapt to early morning starts after a lazy summer. If your child is new to formal education they might find the busy mornings even more of an adjustment. "A key thing to consider when starting school is to focus on making the unknown known as far as possible," says Julie Keyes, a teacher of more than 15 years and founder of The Educational Consultant. "When children are starting school, the shift in their daily routine is dramatic."

Consider testing out a few morning practice runs with your child. This will help you and your child anticipate how school days will go and is an excellent opportunity to teach your child all of the things that you'll need to get done in the mornings and what to expect in the afternoons. This way, there are no surprises on the first day of school.

Anna Taylor

Parents should teach their child a very simple question once they know their teacher's name: 'Please, can you help me?'

— Anna Taylor

Master Basic Skills

Children who have a few basic skills under their belt tend to feel more comfortable in class, says Mary Reede, a kindergarten teacher of 18 years. Kindergarten is where children learn basic skills and develop learning habits that will last their entire lives. However, if your child can already count to ten, recognize their name, use child-friendly scissors, hold a pencil, and dress themselves, they'll be ahead of the curve.

You can help your child practice these skills over the summer in a fun and low-stress way, like coloring and chatting or having a getting dressed race.

Role Play Self-Care Skills

Little kids need to know how to care for their own needs when they enter school. That includes going to the bathroom, dressing, and washing their hands. The best way to prepare them for these expectations is to practice, practice, practice!

Reede notes that parents need to make sure that their children are washing their hands well and following proper hygiene practices. "Teach your child to sneeze or blow their nose into a tissue and then throw it away. Get them used to washing their hands properly and resist the urge to take over for the sake of efficiency. Small children can care for themselves this way they just need to be shown how."

Get Social

Kindergarten is a time for making new friendships and learning how to get along with others. Model turn-taking, sharing, and good manners, and try to arrange play dates where your child can practice their social skills. The Girl Scouts of the USA offers a free "Make New Friends" virtual event series hosted by local councils across the country. Girls will have the opportunity to gain social and emotional learning through fun activities and events.

You can also practice conversation skills with your child by modeling asking questions, showing interest, and maintaining eye contact.

Go Shopping

There is something fun and almost magical about school shopping. Let your child pick out their new backpack, pencil case, lunch box, and water bottle, then get crafty and customize them together. If your child is apprehensive or nervous about starting school then this might be one way to help them get excited.

Relax and Let Go

The most important thing you can do to prepare your child for the first day of kindergarten is simply to relax. Sure, there are the practical things you can do to be ready for school, like, labeling their clothes with their name and having them practice putting their shoes on the right feet, says Taylor. However, once children are off at school parents need to let go and allow their child to explore their new learning environment.

"A child's life before school is a period in its own right, with its own things to learn and experience," Taylor explains. "We shouldn't be 'preparing' them for school by giving them a (false) head start on the things they will be learning at school. We should be laying foundations to help them be happy, confident little souls who are as independent as they can be. It's about learning life skills, not just school skills," she says.

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