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  • Writer's pictureAshley

Get Your Child Ready for Kindergarten!

Updated: Dec 17, 2021

August is national Get Ready for Kindergarten Month. Do you have a little one getting ready for their first year of big kid school? Are you wondering, "How do I get my child ready for kindergarten?" I'm glad you asked. It's not too difficult.

As I look and listen to the world around me, I hear some people who are advising parents to simply love their children at home and the school will do the job of teaching them everything they need to know. As a multi-year kindergarten teacher, I assure you that is not the case.

I hear also hear some people advocating for pre-kindergarten children to know all of their letters, sounds, numbers, and adding/subtracting before heading into school on the first day. While this is admirable and perhaps feasible for their child, it is not, nor do I believe, should it be the norm.

So that leaves us in the middle ground. Remember that not all teachers will believe the exact same thing and there is no set-in-stone list of things for kids to know before school starts, but there are many things that the multitude of kinder teachers agree on.

For the purpose of making everything as clear as possible, I will divide my tips for preparing for kindergarten into two different lists: home-based and educational. Ask any teacher of any level and they will tell you that home life greatly impacts what children need at school and how they learn.

Home-based Learning

1. Create a bedtime and morning routine

Will you lay out clothes the night before? Pack lunches? Take a bath every night? What will morning look like in order to get everyone fed a healthy breakfast and out the door on time? Make these decisions and start to implement the routines a few weeks before the start of school. Remember that kids thrive on routine and structure.

2. Phase out naps

Most kindergartens do not have nap-time. Some schools allow a “quiet time” that lasts about 20 minutes but that is only to help students adjust to full-day learning. Quiet time will be phased out by about the 4-6 weeks of school mark.

3. Discuss and practice social-emotional skills

Some of the greatest learning curves many students will have to handle in kindergarten is emotional regulation, sharing, and self-help skills. So how do you prep your child for success in these areas? Read books about emotions and regulations. Practice calming and attention techniques meant for kids. Allow them time and space to solve some of their own problems with prompting from you if necessary. Have kids clean up after themselves and handle some of their own needs without assistance. Discuss and role-play sharing and other challenging situations that may happen with peers.

4. Manage bathroom needs

Imagine being in charge of a class of twenty or more 5-year-olds, with the objective of teaching, not babysitting, and you have to stop what you are doing to help a child who cannot manage their own bathroom needs. What will the other twenty-plus kids do while you are helping this one?

Things happen and sometimes teaches have to handle unexpected situations, but sending your child to kindergarten without them having a firm handle on caring for their own bathroom needs, will have an impact on the entire class. Not to mention, that this is a requirement for most schools.

5. Practice zippers and shoes

Think about it: 20 zippers at 30 seconds per zipper equal 10 minutes. 10 pairs of shoes at 2 minutes per pair is 20 minutes. Most recesses are between 20-40 minutes. I know the numbers sound far-fetched but the seconds and minutes add up. They add up to time taken from important activities such as recess and gym class.

Practice zippers on pants, jackets, and shoes. Practice buttons on shirts, dresses, and pants. Practice shoe tying regularly. If your child is not able to tie their own shoes, please send them to school in Velcro, zip-up, or slip-on shoes. It saves so much time for kids and teachers.

Extra tip: Practice putting on winter gear such as boots, gloves, mittens, and snow pants before they need to do this quickly at school.


1. Read and write their first name

Children should know how to read, write, and recognize their first names before coming to school. Many things in the school will be labeled and your child needs to be able to locate these things. Check out this post when teaching your child how to write their name.

2. Identify some letter names and sounds

If you are wondering where to start in helping your child identify letter names and sounds, start with the letters in their names. Most teachers will make connections between student’s names and letters they are learning. Also, many will not teach letters in alphabetical order. It’s best to start your child off with letters they see the most, in their names!

3. Count to 10

Students entering kindergarten should be able to count to 10. Songs and chants will help with this. You can also just practice counting with them as you drive or walk. Books will introduce your child to important math concepts like counting, shapes, and colors.

I can almost guarantee your child will be introduced to and explicitly taught numbers 1-10 but having a concept of the numbers, their order, and counting objects 1-to-1 will give them a positive start to math understanding.

4. Practice scissor skills

Working on scissor skills is very important. Many activities from the beginning of school will incorporate cutting and gluing. Scissor skills involve explicit teaching of how to hold the scissors, how to open and close them, how to hold their arm, and how to turn the paper. It requires a lot of practice and feedback. Having this skill before entering school will give them the opportunity to succeed immediately and not feel frustrated.

As I mentioned, different teachers will ask for different things. What I recommend above is not an exhaustive list of ways to get your child ready for kindergarten, but this is a great starting point!

What item on this list does your child have mastered? Let me know in the comments below!

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