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:
- 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:
- 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.
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.
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.
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.