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10 Ways to Get Your Kid (And You) Ready For Kindergarten

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10 Ways to Get Your Kid (And You) Ready For Kindergarten

It won’t be long until I experience the bittersweet moment of dropping my child off for his first day of kindergarten. To be honest, I’ve been more than a bit of a wreck about it. So, I’ve done what most nervous mothers do, I asked my mother. I also asked my sister, two of my best friends, and a lovely woman from my book club.

How do I make sure my kid is ready for kindergarten? How do I make sure that I’m ready for kindergarten? Here are 10 tips that I have managed to scrape together from the great advice that I received.

1. Take a Trial Run of The Trips to And From School

Kids become anxious and even irritable when they don’t know what to expect. This is especially true when they are experiencing something entirely new. A few days before school starts, take a dry run. Walk or drive to the bus stop or to the school, whichever will be your normal routine. Be sure to drive the following points home:

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  • An adult will be there to drop them off and pick them up.
  • Somebody at school will help them to find their bus at the end of the day.
  • The importance of being still and quiet on the bus.

2. Teach Your Child Their Teacher’s Name

Your kid will feel more relaxed and is more likely to handle meeting their teacher with confidence if they know their teacher’s name ahead of time. Once you know the teacher’s name, help your child to memorize it. If you can find a picture on the school website, that can also help your kid feel better about getting to know them.

3. Connect With The School And Teacher on Social Media

Your school might have pages available on social media for connecting with teachers, administrators, support staff, and other parents. Find out if this is true, and join up. It’s a great way to reach out to other parents and to the school. In some cases, it might be a way to keep up with announcements.

4. Look Into Your Car-seat Situation

This is a great time to reconsider your car seat. First of all, if you aren’t using one, you should be. Even if the law doesn’t require it, kindergarteners should be secured in a car seat or a booster seat depending on their size. You should also check to be sure that your car seat has not expired, and that there are no recalls. Other tips for buying a child safety seat include:

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  • Buy only new car seats.
  • Have a car seat technician inspect your car seat and installation.
  • Buckle kids in the back seats only.

5. Encourage The Development of Motor Skills

Every school has different requirements when it comes to readiness and the development of motor skills. So, I won’t go into the exact details of that. However, I cannot empathize the importance of working on both fine and gross motor skills with your child. Here are some things you can do to help your child develop fine motor skills:

  • Making snakes, balls, or just squeezing play doh
  • Tearing paper into small pieces
  • Fastening, buttons, snaps, and zippers
  • Putting coins into a piggy bank
  • Cutting paper with scissors
  • Coloring, drawing, and tracing

Now for gross motor skills:

  • Climbing on playground equipment
  • Playing hopscotch
  • Jumping rope
  • Playing soccer
  • Jumping, hopping, skipping, and galloping

6. Teach Them Basic Manners And Age Appropriate Consideration For Others

Teach your children to say please and thank you. Teach them how to wait their turn. Show them by example how to apologize when they have hurt someone’s feeling. It’s not enough to simply know the actions behind good manners, teach them why these things are important as well.

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Your child’s teacher will thank you. Their friends will thank you. Other parents will thank you. The average four or five-year-old is mature enough to understand manners and consideration when presented in an age appropriate way.

7. Encourage Independence

Imagine being a teacher in charge of herding twenty to thirty-five children and too, six-year-olds. Now imagine if none of them could manage buttoning or zipping their clothing. Imagine having to supervise all of the students in your classroom while helping one of your students with basic tasks such as finding a folder in their desk or using the restroom. Finally, imagine trying to hold class when every student was coming to you to manage the tiniest of conflicts and frustrations.

You’d never get anything done. Please do what you can to teach your child basic self-care, and age-appropriate problem-solving skills. Then, when they really do need help, teach them to be patient while they wait for that help.

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8. Make Sure Your Child is up to Date on Immunizations

Be proactive. You don’t want to be the parent who receives notices that their child will be excluded from school because they are missing an important shot. Your doctor may have seen hundreds of kids for their school physicals. Take the time to ask them if your child needs any shots before they start kindergarten. As an extra precaution, get a copy of your child’s shot records to keep at home or in a safe deposit box.

9. Let Your Kid Take You Shopping

Do you remember when you went school supply shopping and picked out all of your folders, pencils, crayons, binders, and other items? Unfortunately, most school supply lists are so detailed that kids no longer have those choices. School clothing choices are often limited as well, even at public schools. This can certainly take the fun out of getting ready to start school.

Because of this, it is important to brighten things up by letting your child take the lead wherever they can. Let them take you shopping, and give them leeway to pick out their lunch box, socks, and any other small items that will make them feel as if they have at least some say in the back to school experience.

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10. Make a Plan For Lunch or Snacks

Even if kindergarten only lasts half of the day, your child will probably eat at least a snack. They may even stay long enough for lunch. This can be more complicated than you think. Some schools require that you deposit money into an online account. Others sell lunch tickets or punch cards. It is unlikely that your child will be expected to carry his or her own money. Know what the expectations are, so that your child is prepared on the first day.

This is a nerve-wracking time for both you and your child.  Take deep breaths, and remember that this is a good thing. Before you know it, this will just be a wonderful memory you enjoy while preparing to send your beloved child off to college.

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

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Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

In today’s chaotic world, having family time isn’t always easy. It can get pretty hard to coordinate schedules, especially if the family is large. Life demands that we work, attend school, nurture friendships, hobbies, etc. All of those things are extremely time-consuming and important—but so is spending time with your family.

Why is family time so important? Because we all need love and support, and a good, strong family can provide that regularly. For children, spending time with their family helps shape them into good, responsible adults, improve their mental health, and develop strong core values.

There are many positive effects of spending time with your family. My family and I, for instance (and this includes grandchildren as well), meet every Tuesday night for dinner and games. My older son and I take turns cooking. This gives all of us a chance to try some new recipes. After dinner, we play games. And without fail, they inspire competitiveness and laughter. As family night has evolved, the grandkids have invited their friends over as well, creating the need for more chairs but also expanding our circle of fun.

Aside from the obvious fun and games, there are other reasons why spending time with your family is paramount. In this article, I will provide you with multiple reasons why spending time with your family regularly is a win-win. And then, I will lay out some ways on how to do it.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important

Here are six reasons why it’s important to spend time with your family.

1. Provides the Opportunity to Bond

When you spend time together as a family—talking about your day, your highs, your lows—it fosters communication. As parents, it gives you the chance to listen to your children, to hear them out, to learn about what’s going on in their world. It also provides you with the opportunity to use life situations as teaching moments.

Before our Tuesday night dinner/game nights, my family used to see each other pretty regularly but not consistently, especially the grandkids. Our family night changed all that. Now, it’s guaranteed that the grandchildren, along with some of their friends, will be there. Not only do I get to find out what’s been happening in their lives, but they also get to know us better. It’s creating memories they can treasure forever, as well as modeling the Get-Together tradition for when they eventually have families of their own.

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“Spending time partaking in everyday family leisure activities has been associated with greater emotional bonding within families.”[1]

2. Teaches the Value of Family

Taking the time to be with your family lets your children know they are valued—that spending time together is a priority. I know that in today’s world, both parents are busy as both usually working. What better way to let your children know they are loved than by carving out time each week to spend with them?

According to Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., “words like honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage are core to centuries of religious, philosophical, and family beliefs. Use them and others to express and reinforce your family values. Teach children the behaviors that flow from these principles. Use quotes to ignite meaningful dinner conversations and encourage kids to talk about these values.”[2]

3. Enhances Mental Well-Being

Spending that quality time together gives your children a safe platform in which to express themselves, ask questions about things that are bothering them, or talk about their day and things they’ve learned. I know that my 9-year old granddaughter can’t wait until it’s her turn to talk about her day. She usually goes on and on and has to be stopped to give everyone else a chance to talk about their goings-on.

“Research shows the quality of family relationships is more important than their size or composition. Whoever the family is made up of, they can build strong, positive relationships that promote wellbeing and support children and young people’s mental health.”[3]

For children, having the opportunity to seek advice from parents they trust—as well as being able to have a sounding board and help with problem-solving—is priceless. In addition, being able to voice their opinions and be heard—and to feel like what they have to say matters—is an esteem-builder. All of these can have a very impactful positive effect on their well-being.

4. Helps the Child Feel Loved

How do you think a child feels knowing their parents want to spend time with them—talking, sharing experiences, playing games, listening to them? It will make them feel as though they are important, and a child that feels important is happier and more apt to thrive. Setting aside chores or work to spend time with your children demonstrates that they’re essential—that they matter. What a gift to give your child!

“If a child has your undivided attention, it signals that they are loved and important to you. This can be further nurtured by experiencing joyful activities together, as it demonstrates that you want to spend time with your children over and above all of the daily demands.”[4]

5. Creates a Safe Environment

If you regularly spend time with your children, you are also creating an atmosphere of trust. The more trust they have, the more likely they are to share with you what’s going on in their world. As they get older, you’re going to want to know. Negative influences can show up at any time, but if you’ve always been there for your child, they are more apt to come to you and ask for your advice.

Spending time together generates familiarity and feelings of being supported. When a child feels safe and comfortable, they’re more likely to open up. This is one way to get to know your child and know what’s on their minds. Are they okay? Do they need your guidance? If so, how?

6. Reduces Stress

This is significant. We all suffer from stress at one point or another in our lives. Spending time with family helps alleviate that stress. It’s an opportunity to talk things out, get feedback, and maybe brainstorm for a solution to the problem that is causing the stress.

According to Brandy Drzymkowski, “During the holidays, your closest five people probably shifts to family and friends. You may even get to see loved ones who live far away. Good news! This can actually help lower your stress levels. Studies show ‘face-to-face interaction…counteracts the body’s defensive ‘fight-or-flight’ response.’ In other words, quality time spent with loved ones is nature’s stress reliever.”[5]

So, now that you know some of the benefits, what are some ideas for making family time happen?

How to Make Family Time Happen

Here are four things you can do to make family time happen and spend more time with them.

1. Family Dinners

This, as I said above, is a wonderful way to spend time together. While you’re having dinner, you have the chance to discuss things that are going on in your lives—the ups, the downs, and everywhere in between. It’s like having a buffer against life’s challenges.

Aside from that, eating dinner together has many additional benefits. Studies have shown that for kids who eat regularly with their families, there is less risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and depression.[6]

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“Our belief in the ‘magic’ of family dinners is grounded in research on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals.” It further states, “We recommend combining food, fun and conversation at mealtimes because those three ingredients are the recipe for a warm, positive family dinner—the type of environment that makes these scientifically proven benefits possible.”[7]

According to Parenting NI, “children and adolescents who spend more time with their parents are less likely to get involved in risky behavior. According to studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse via Arizona State University, teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana.”[8]

As you can see, there are multiple benefits to spending time with each other routinely. You can’t go wrong with this family activity.

2.  Regular Movie Nights

This is another fun event, although, from personal experience, I have to caution that choosing a movie that everyone wants to see is not easy. So, give yourselves plenty of time so you don’t spend two hours searching for a movie, and then end up watching no movie at all because the night is practically over. Try and choose a movie before the day, if possible.

Afterward, open it up for discussion. Ask questions pertinent to the movie. What do you think of ABC? Should they have done that? Would you have done something differently? There are so many questions you can ask to spark a conversation and keep the night going.

3. Game Night

This is another occasion for great fun. If you have a competitive spirit, it makes it even more fun. There are numerous games out there—Balderdash, Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Charades, to name a few—that can create fun havoc. All I can say is, on game nights, don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s okay if you lose the game. The fun is in being together, laughing, debating, and having a good time.

In addition, “Playing board games is great for children for many reasons besides the obvious; it’s fun to play games! Age appropriate games can help children to think strategically, solve problems creatively, work on pattern recognition and build simple math skills. They also help children develop social skills such as following rules, taking turns, and graceful winning or losing. Additionally, a family game night provides an opportunity for children to bond with siblings, parents and family members as well as peers. It can promote tradition building and establish a fun routine.”[9]

So, go find your family a game and start having fun!

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4. Sharing a Hobby

If you and one of your kids like to do the same things, do it more often. For example, my oldest son and his teenage son go on long bike rides together on the weekends. Not only do they get to exercise, but they also get to talk and look at beautiful sceneries. They’ve also incorporated cooking into their routine. They plan the meal, shop, and prepare—activities that bring them closer together.

Sharing a hobby is a great way to bring family members together. It bonds people in amazing ways. According to Alison Ratner Mayer, LICSW, “One of the easiest and most important ways to build a child’s self-esteem is to spend time with them doing something not only that they enjoy but something that you also enjoy. There is a special magic that happens between a parent and a child when they share a mutually beloved activity. It sends the message to the child that their parents are having fun, true, honest, real fun, with them.”[10]

Final Thoughts

Spending time with the family is an investment. It is an investment in the happiness, well-being, and security of that system. It can also serve as a way to break out of the daily rut and the constant worldly demands, while at the same time, building a strong family unit.

Even though it isn’t always easy to find the time, finding the time is key to staying close and to providing and receiving love and support. There is no greater gift than the gift of time. That’s what we all seem to be missing nowadays. So, in giving that gift consistently, everyone feels loved and appreciated.

The family that takes the time to interact regularly is typically happy. They know they are part of a tribe, and that’s essential in today’s chaotic world. To know that there are people whom you can count on—people who will have your back in times of need—is invaluable.

Now, go and plan something plan with your family, if you haven’t already.

Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Pittsburgh Parent: Spending Time Together—Benefits of Family Time
[2] Roots of Action: Integrity: How Families Teach and Live Their Values
[3] Beyond Blue: Healthy Families
[4] Esperance Anglican Community School: The importance of family time
[5] Brandy Drzymkowski: Spending Time With Loved Ones Reduces Stress
[6] Harvard Graduate School of Education: Harvard EdCast: The Benefit of Family Mealtime
[7] The Family Dinner Project: BENEFITS OF FAMILY DINNERS
[8] Parenting NI: The Importance of Spending Time Together
[9] WNY Children: Family Game Night- The Benefits of Game Play
[10] Child Therapy Boston: The Benefits of Sharing a Hobby With Your Child

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