Well you knew it was going to happen. From the time your little one came out of the womb you knew that they would be under your solitary care for a short while, and now the time for REAL socializing, and learning begins without you. Here are a few steps to get your kindergartner ready, and you! This part is never easy for either you or your child so get prepared! By the way, this article wasn’t written by me; I read it, and now I’m sharing it with you it comes from the blog “Cool Moms” .
1. Visit yourÂ school before the first day.
Take a day to go visit your childrenâ€™s school so they can become familiar with the building, the hallways, the walk to the classroom. Most importantly, theyâ€™ll want to see how awesome the playground is, right? We hear that some schools even do a practice bus run, where parents can ride along with kids to show them how the system works, which is pretty cool.
Our editor Kate has a tradition of takingÂ her kids by theirÂ school on the dayÂ teacher assignments are posted; her kids have the opportunity to meet their new teachers, and then she takes themÂ out for ice cream.
Bottom line: the moreÂ comfortable a youngÂ child is anticipatingÂ a new school, the easier it will be when you drop off that first day. And probably all the days after.
2. Organize a playdate with a classmate
The first day of school is easier when thereâ€™s at least one familiar face in theÂ class, so give your kids a chance to make some friends by organizing a playdate with their future classmates. Some schools will share emails of other parents with rising kindergarteners, or you may be able to just work your social networks and neighborhood friends to figure out who else has Miss Johnson or Mr. Goldstein this coming year.
Our editor Liz always talks about how grateful she was when one preschool momÂ tracked her down in August, introduced herself by email, and set up a playdate. The girls remain friends years later.
The playdate doesnâ€™t have to be some big high-pressured YOU MUST BE FRIENDS kind of thing, either. You can just meet for an hour in the park or the neighborhood pool; or host it at your place with some easy kid-friendly playdate snacksÂ and collaborativeÂ activities. All that matters is that the kids bond over some shared interests, whether itâ€™s a video game, kicking a soccer ball, playing dress-up, or taking on anÂ oversized coloring posterÂ together where thereâ€™s plenty of room for all.
(Just keep in mind that five year-olds can definitely still be territorial when it comes to their stuff.)
3. Work on those pre-reading skills
This tip is so easy, because your kids will have no clue theyâ€™re even doing it. While youâ€™re together this summer, play I Spy with your kids to identifyÂ shapes, colors, numbers, and letters. Or do rhyming games in the car. These are all great pre-reading skills that will help your childÂ learn quickly when school starts.
And be sure download some of our favorite educational apps for preschoolersÂ so when your kids want a little bit of screen time, they can be learning more about shapes and sounds too.
4. Have fun shopping for school supplies together.
Arenâ€™tÂ new school supplies kind of the best thing ever? We are big believers thatÂ gearing up for school gets special for your kindergartener when you make a big deal out of back-to-school shopping.Â Â Set aside one day for a shopping trip together, and load up on a new backpack, lunch box, clothes or uniforms, shoes â€” the works. We always have tons of recos in our annual back to school shopping guide. Throw in a stop for lunch, kidsâ€™ choice,Â while youâ€™re at it. Youâ€™ll have so much fun.
In fact, Liz got an awesome story about her own daughterâ€™s first-day-of-kindergarten shopping trip.
If youâ€™re more of an online shopper, just grab your laptop, your kid and some special snacks and have a fun online-shopping date, maybe while the siblings are watching a movie. Whatâ€™s important is that your child feels involved and has something familiar to look forward to, even if it is just a fun new pencil or a backpack pull.
5. HelpÂ your kidsÂ to be independent. (We know, itâ€™s hard.)
When your kids go to school, theyâ€™re going to have to do things on their own that they may or may not be doing on their own consistently at home. Like going to the restroom. Zipping upÂ their coats. Opening their milk cartons. Closing upÂ their lunch boxes. And wow, do weÂ feel for those kindergarten teachers who have to help tie shoes all day.Â If yourÂ kid is struggling to figure out shoelaces,Â try one of these three ways to tie shoes from Skinny Mom or watch this shoe-tying video tutorialÂ by Ross Elementary Schoolâ€™s PTA. Itâ€™s pretty brilliant.
When youâ€™ve picked a couple of things to let your kidsÂ start doing on their own, just be sure to stick to it, even when they beg you to do it for them. Independence FTW!
6. Teach them their ABCs and 123s
Do not stress about this! We donâ€™t think four-year-olds haveÂ to be tearing through books on their ownÂ â€” learning to readÂ isÂ kind of what kindergarten isÂ about, after all â€” but it is a good idea to get your kidsÂ feeling comfortable withÂ their letters and numbers. We are partial toÂ the Curious George: Adventures in Learning workbooks (for grades Pre-K through 1) because they use stories about George to teach concepts like math and reading, whileÂ also teaching emotional development and social skills. And weâ€™re big fans of whole-child development. You know, since our kids arenâ€™t robots.
If you want to test-drive it, startÂ with a free download of one of HMHâ€™sÂ Â free printable mini-workbooks, which includeÂ 25 pages of activities and learning help on the basics.
AnÂ important tip to keep your kid from getting discouraged is that first, you need toÂ find a topicÂ thatâ€™s exciting to your kid. No big pressure. So if counting backwards from 20 is creating frustration, back off; you want them to be excited about kindergarten, not stressed about what they do or donâ€™t know.
When youâ€™ve picked a topic, work on a lesson after breakfast a couple days a week, then you canÂ let your kids practice writing, numbers, orÂ letter sounds while youâ€™re cooking dinner. The time will fly, and your child will be right on track to dive into learning when school starts.
7.Â Let kidsÂ be responsible for their own stuff.
Itâ€™s so easy as parents toÂ take responsibility for all our kidsâ€™ many, many, many things. After all, thereâ€™s just so much of it! Plus, kids tend to be slower than we are, andÂ they forget stuff. But in kindergarten, theyâ€™re going to have to be in charge of their ownÂ things. The best wayÂ help our kids beÂ responsible for themselves is to set them up for success.
Try organizingÂ anÂ area in your home with low hooks or cubbies forÂ shoes, backpacks, coats, lunch boxes â€” we love this clothes tree from Pâ€™kolino â€” so kids know exactly where to put their thingsÂ when they walk in the door each day.
Weâ€™ve survived far too manyÂ frantic searches for thatÂ missing homework folderÂ when youâ€™re already five minutes late getting out the door, that we canâ€™t guarantee this will never happen to you (okay, it definitely will), but maybe it will happen a little less often than it used to.
8.Â Practice sitting still.
The kindergarten teachers we know say that one of the hardest things about teaching kindergarteners is that students at that ageÂ donâ€™t always knowÂ how to sit still. When youâ€™re at home, a kid running aroundÂ not such a big deal. But multiply that by 10 or 12 or 22, and itâ€™s a different story. (Which reminds us, teachers need raises!)Â Â So help your kidsÂ practice sitting still for five to ten minutes at the time,Â whether itâ€™s staying in their seat at the dinner table after theyâ€™ve finished or just sitting quietly during storytime on the sofa.
For our kidsÂ who really struggle with this, reward charts have been a big help, and we happen to love these printable ones, which weâ€™ve shared here before.
9. Read childrenâ€™s books about kindergarten
We almost always turn to books when weâ€™re looking for ways talk to our kids about difficult topics or to prepare them for big life changes, and kindergarten is certainly one of those. So itâ€™s normal for your child to be nervous and excited at the same time. Search forÂ some excellent and empowering childrenâ€™s books about Kindergarten,Â then talk about what your child is scared or happy about so youâ€™ll be able to reassure them.
10. Play school at home. Itâ€™s fun!
When your kids are boredÂ at home this summer with nothingÂ to do, play school with them.Â MakeÂ craft projects, doÂ science experiments, explore color with sidewalk chalk, stack blocks, read books, or even just playÂ board gamesÂ together, and mention to your child howÂ these are all thingsÂ theyâ€™ll be doing at school. KnowingÂ that learning can be fun is a great perspective for kidsÂ to have from kindergarten all the way to college. And beyond. Hey, weâ€™re still learning every day too.
Also look for play sets that let kids role play the first day of school. How great is this Playmobil school bus? Or just turn an existing dollhouse or dolls into a classroom. Nothing like associating school with toys to make it all seem less scary.
11.Â Sleep wellâ€¦
Our kidsâ€™ bedtimes alwaysÂ slide later and later as the summer goes on because they get to sleep in in the mornings. (Well, if weâ€™re lucky.) But thatâ€™s going to change soon.Â About a week before school starts, startÂ moving bedtime 15 minutes earlier each day.Â That way your kids will be betterÂ rested and you wonâ€™t have mutiny on your hand byÂ by screaming, BEDTIME! an hour-and-a-half earlier all at once.
â€¦and eat well.
It also can giveÂ parents a little extra time at nightÂ to start planningÂ out some healthy school morning breakfasts so your kids donâ€™t crash before lunch.Â If youâ€™re not a morning person, hard boil eggs at night and put them in the fridge, orÂ check out these ideas for 8 quick, healthy breakfast recipes for busy weekday mornings, like this adorable plate of â€œhappy eggsâ€ from Weelicious.
Weâ€™ve also gotÂ 7 must-try smoothie recipesÂ which can help get a little more nutrition into a busy morning, andÂ lookÂ at our 5 delicious ways to jazz up your morning oatmeal. Cool Mom Eats is always a great source of inspiration for back-to-school meal help. Hint.
12. Start your year-end scrapbook before the year starts.
Our editor KristenÂ recommends starting a school year memory book for your kids now, so youâ€™re not scrambling at the end of the year. (You know what weâ€™re talking about, moms who are like hmâ€¦my kid is 8. Maybe I should get around to herÂ baby book at some point?)
Try toÂ takeÂ a picture of your child with their new teacher on the first day, or get a photo of that important first-day-of-school outfit, and jot down the things your kid isÂ nervous or excited about. Itâ€™s so easy toÂ use one of theÂ great fill-in-the-blank scrapbooksÂ out there, which are likeÂ baby books for the school years. It may seem like another thing to add to your to-do list, but when your kids are heading off to middle school, theyâ€™reÂ going to be so glad you did it.