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How to Prep your Kids for Kindergarten

It’s not clear who is more nervous on the first day of kindergarten: the student, or the parents. Working on some skills at home or with a professional like Bright Kids can give your kindergartner a leg up on their peers. So read on to find out how to prep your kids for kindergarten!

Here are some great skills to build with your little scholar:

Talk to the teacher

Your child’s social skills determine their first experiences of school. Something as simple as asking for water requires a child to communicate, not easy for a shy student. In addition to speaking with adults, kindergartners build their first friendships and learn to behave around their peers.

Here are some examples you can do to help your child move towards independence in building relationships with adults and children alike:

  • Make sure your child can engage in on-topic conversation!
    • Talk with your child over tea or juice for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. This is also a great way to teach them manners!
  • Teach how to ask for help!
    • Sometimes children break rules they didn’t know existed. Their calmly asking for help is the difference between a gold star and a call home. The teacher will not always be able to step in when students fight over toys or space, which means that your own child will need to be able to clearly speak up for themselves.
  • A tutor, such as those at Bright Kids,  or educator can help your child practice working closely with an unfamiliar adult.

Develop Fine/Gross Motor Skills

Kindergarten is all about building– building skills, building relationships, building confidence.

However, students often don’t believe they can learn. They’re held back by believing they’re not capable of fulfilling tasks, that they’re too clumsy.

Working on movement with your child can give them a lifelong love of exercise and healthy living. And, early work on their fine motor skills helps with learning how to write, giving them the confidence to grow!

Here are some ways to help your child work on the important movements, big and small:

  • Set time aside to work on arts and crafts projects with your child.
    • Early practice with scissors and crayons can help your child have an easier time learning how to write.
  • Have your child help you tidy up!
    • Cleaning can teach kids how to sort objects while also building their fine motor skills. Giving them specific instructions with multiple steps while cleaning –“honey, after you put away this container, please hand me the broom and dustpan”– can get them ready to follow instructions in class. Cleaning time is also the perfect time to introduce counting, addition, and subtraction!
  • Children learn the social skills and gain the creativity needed to be successful as an adult through play.
    • Time spent playing not only builds gross motor skills (like running and jumping), it teaches them to have fun staying healthy and builds confidence!
  • Early Childhood Educators understand how to develop your child’s motor skills, there’s no shame asking for help to get your student ahead on writing!

Practice Spending Time Apart

It can be incredibly hard for a child to separate from their parent (and for a parent to separate from their child.) Teaching sessions usually begin with students hesitant to enter classrooms. Parents sometime walk their child to class; tell them “daddy will be right here,”  “Mommy will be waiting for you.” Praising, “You’ll do great!” After a shy minute or two, they warm up, start learning and have fun.

Here are some quick tips to avoid your child feeling this dread and to keep them focused in class:

  • If at all possible, have your child meet their kindergarten teacher before the first day.
    • Let them take time to learn to trust the person who’s going to guide them through the first year of schooling. This will make the first day less overwhelming and will give someone to look forward to seeing in a room full of strangers.
  • Schedule a day time babysitting session with someone you trust who isn’t their usual caregiver.
    • By arranging these play dates with someone who isn’t a parent or regular caregiver, the child will experience staying alone with other adults.

Start a routine, routine, routine 

Structure is a kindergarten teacher’s best friend. To deal with the overwhelming curiosity of twenty-odd young learners, there need to be boundaries and routine.

Here are some tips, to help acclimate your child to a more structured environment:

  • Set a daily schedule and routine at home.
    • Communicate clearly the order of this routine, what happens when. First we wake up, then we have breakfast, then we bathe, then we start the day. Make sure to follow this structure with your child
  • Have your child take a weekly class with a tutor or educator.
    • Early childhood educators are trained on the best ways to help teach students how to transition between activities.

These are just some examples to help make the pre-K to kindergarten transition smoother for both parents and kids. What are some ideas that you’re trying to prepare your child for kindergarten? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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by Bright Kids NYC tutors Jordan VanderBeek and Maria Jimenez

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