Are you looking for tips to prepare your child for kindergarten? Well momma welcome! We’ve been on this motherhood journey for the last 4-5 years and now our sweet babies are getting ready to cross another milestone. This moment seemed so far away in the delivery room, and now we are here.
Before we get started, I just want to warn you that this blog post is a lengthy one! So, before you start reading, get a glass of wine, settle the kids and spouse, and pause the TV, lol! Although it’s long, I PROMISE, it’s going to be worth your time. The tips to prepare your child for kindergarten are things I thought about when realizing my baby will be starting kindergarten this school year. And although he’s been attending daycare, being on a school campus will be totally different and there’s so many things I felt like we needed to work on before this next journey. Especially SAFETY!
First, let me explain…
I feel like these tips are realistic, practical, and modern based on my experience in the classroom and the global issues we’re seeing as it relates to the lack of school protection across America! So, although this should be a happy milestone, I know myself just as well as other first-time moms are TERIFIED as to what to expect when sending our babies in the classrooms, and unfortunately, I don’t know if anyone can truly say. But my advice is to be prepared for anything and have open communication in the healthiest way possible.
So, before we jump into the tips to prepare your child for kindergarten, I wanted to give a quick background story on myself. Upon graduating from college, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do in life, so my last year of college, I decided to be a schoolteacher. In attempts to become a state certified teacher, I completed all the necessary training requirements. However, I didn’t pass the certification test.
So before deciding to re-test, I thought it would be a great idea to register as a substitute teacher, in hopes that I would get real life experience, which would then help me pass the exam. Long story short, I became a long-term substitute teacher for an entire school year in a kindergarten class, and might I say it was eventful!
As a long-term substitute I encountered all the same issues as a teacher would in the classroom (behaviors, teaching instructions, classroom management, etc.). So, based on what I’ve experienced first-hand, I began to list things I thought would be helpful for my children and decided to share with our motherhood community.
So, without further ado, here’s the best tips to prepare your child for kindergarten!
17 Things to Teach Your Toddler Before Starting Kindergarten
Personal safety is top priority! Before kids start kindergarten, we (parents) need to emphasize the importance of safety. As we know, the lack of school safety has become more concerning for parents, more now than ever, so here’s a few basics that I will be teaching my children before starting kindergarten:
-Sirens/alarms means danger (show your child pictures/videos of sirens and play the sound)
–STOP, DROP what you are doing IMMEDIATELY, and LISTEN to instructions
-Following the directions of a trusted teacher
-Follow the sirens/red flashing lights
-Stay quit and find a corner (if instructed to do so)
-Stay with your group/class
-Stay inside the school fence (unless police/fireman instructs otherwise)
In addition, I will be teaching my child my personal contact information, first+ last name, place of employment and home address.
For added safety measure, you may want to consider purchasing your child a safety watch.
Being independent is one of the primary goals for little kids. Thinking back to toddlerhood, remember when your child wanted to do most things on their own? Well, now is the time to ensure many of those skills are practiced so they can be displayed during school hours. Some skills may include:
-Using the restroom independently
-Opening lunch/snack packs
– Hanging/ put on jackets
This is HUGE! Really, it falls immediately after safety.
Self-confidence is a characteristic that should be taught and encouraged to be displayed daily. When a child is confident, he/she knows their value and self-worth with the likeliness to perform at an accelerate rate verses one who is not. Self-confidence also helps to develop leadership qualities, creating space for independent thinkers to be impactful throughout their environments. Ways to help your child to become confident:
-Recite affirmations together daily
-Praise and acknowledgement their hard work/efforts
-Create opportunities for them to show case their talents
-Encourage, acknowledge and support their perspectives (allow their voices to be heard)
Kindergarten ranges in age. Therefore, it’s important to remember some kids may not know how to communicate or express their feelings properly. Although a child may not always know when and where to display certain emotions, it’s a great idea to practice communicating to others their feelings and how to properly display, when communicating with teachers, students, etc. Here are a few ways to work on this:
-Ask your child how specific actions makes them feel
-Ask them to use words to communicate vs silent treatment
-Express communications through artistic expression
This is an important element as it opens the lines of communication between parent/child, getting you (the parent/guardian) to know what’s happening around them and how things may be affecting him/her at school (if something ever occurs). Which then encourages a safe and happy environment for your child and others.
5-Respecting others personal space/boundaries
Just like there’s boundaries set at home between parent/child, there’s a moment in time where we should be teaching our kids about boundaries between friends/classmates. Respecting someone’s personal space is maintaining a level of distance during play and alone time. Not every kid likes to be touched (or hugged). In knowing that it’s also important to also teach kids how to communicate this other without being seemingly rude.
Here’s 2 ways we can help…
A child that doesn’t like to be touched by others:
-Play and talk with friends at a distance
-Teach child how to politely tell friends he/she doesn’t like touching
A friendly/hugging child:
-Ask permission to touch or give hugs to friends
-Explain not all friends like to be touched and that’s ok!
6-Establishing boundaries for others to respect
This is very important. Helping your child to establish and communicate boundaries when you’re not around will help them develop advocacy skills for themselves. Establishing and communicating boundaries should be clear, direct and precise. There are basic boundaries that parents are probably already teaching their children. However, it can be reiterated and incorporated into the other boundaries that are established based on personal preference.
What are basic boundaries? And how to teach your child to communicate this?
Basic Boundaries at minimum:
-No touching or showing private areas
-No restroom sharing
-No grabbing/hitting/pushing me
-No yelling/screaming/negative talk to me
Examples of ways you can teach your toddler to communicate this:
-You shouldn’t be touching me or showing your private areas. I don’t like it and I will tell the teacher and my parents.
– I ‘m not allowed to share the restroom with others (and I don’t like it)… please get out now. Teach your child if the other child doesn’t respond, leave the restroom stall immediately and report this incident to the teacher immediately and to you when they get home.
-I don’t want you grabbing/hitting/pushing me, please keep your hands to yourself or I will tell the teacher. (Teach your child to tell the teacher after the first incident and if they feel like the other child will hurt them or is mean, find the teacher and play next to the teacher and report this incident to you IMMEDIATELY).
-I’m don’t want to play with someone who yells/screams at me.
*This also applies to adults! Therefore, teach your child to report incidents to you if an adult yells/scream/curse at them/etc. and take IMMEDIATE actions to correct and report!
Related Blog Post: How Often Should We Self-Care? A Daily Self-Care Schedule and Routine + 2 Free Printables
My grandfather’s #1 quotes to us as children was “The mark of intelligence is the ability to follow directions”!
With that being said, as a mom I knew I would heavily focus on teaching my kids how to follow directions. However, in order to teach your child to follow directions, listening will be key! So once your child gets better at listening, give them instructions with specific directions to follow. Whenever something isn’t completed as directed, re-direct them and/or show them, then repeat to help them follow those directions.
Now that your child has entered school age, they will be expected to do certain abilities and although they may have the knowledge, the directions to complete the task or assignment may be different, requiring more or less steps, which can affect the outcome of the grade. Therefore, following directions will always be critical, especially in an instructional setting. Ways to work on this skill at home:
-Create task to be completed followed based on instructions
-Complete your night routine in an instructional order (use photos or charts to show sequence if needed)
-Play games that have children follow a prompt (red light green light, Simon Says, scavenger hunt, etc.)
8- Restroom etiquette
Having restroom etiquette is important for kids to develop. Now that your child is school age, your child will be going to the restroom alone if it’s outside of the time scheduled. So being able to wipe, wash hands, pull up/down pants, etc. are important skills that will need to be mastered, as restrooms are not located inside the classroom. Things to reiterate to your child:
-No stall sharing
-No playing with toilets/paper towels/tissue paper/etc.
Working with your child on being a leader will help them to be their own person, not following the crowd and showcasing model behaviors to their peers. Being a leader takes confidence and self-awareness. Demonstrating leader qualities will transfer inside/outside of the classroom and set him/her up for future endeavors. To help develop and strengthen this characteristic:
-Allow your child the ability to make more independent decisions (age-appropriate matters)
-Create a safe environment where your child can vocalize their opinions
– Give your child permission to ask “why”
-Encourage your child to resolve conflict independently
-Encourage your child to take incitive when problems arise
Is it just me or does it seem like toddlers mind everyone else’s business but their own! LOL…
My child is always ready to tell me what someone else did, what I said when it comes to his brother, who I’m talking to, etc. And because he does this at home, I know he does it at school. So, if your toddler is anything like mines, working on staying focused on his own actions will get us closer to being ready for kindergarten.
Ways to work on at home:
-Continue to tell your child that particular incidents wasn’t pertaining to them!
11-Time scheduling/time sensitivity
Working with your child on the concept of time and following schedules, as it’s helpful for children adapting to kindergarten! In a traditional school setting, time is blocked and scheduled for everything anticipated to happen and time management plays a huge role. So, when creating activities or planning your day, schedule activities into time segments so your child can move swiftly when things wrapping up and they understand there’s a time limit for scheduled activities. Ways you can help your little one:
-setting a timer/bell so they can see time decreasing
-set up a picture schedule
-create a daily schedule with predictable routine
Related Blog Post: 10 Extremely Helpful Time Management Tips for Busy Moms + Free Productivity Planner
This is a hard one for adults sometimes, let alone toddlers. However, it is a skill worth having and has to be practiced daily (for children and adults). Patience in kindergarten is super important because there’s approximately a 1:25 ratio and EVERYONE’s child is wanting or needing something at the exact same time.
Therefore, helping your little one learns the art of patience will help them when their needs aren’t addressed as quickly as it would be at home or in preschool, where the ratio of adult to child is much smaller. Therefore, being more independent and a problem solver, as stated above is a good skill to develop and practice when preparing your child for kindergarten. Ways you can help at home:
-Allow your child to resolve issues before stepping in
-Don’t be so quick to respond to your child when it’s not an emergency
-Ask your child to wait until you complete a task (something short and simple)
If you have a toddler that displays temper tantrums, try working with them on ways they can respond differently. It’s always great to address these situations head on and seek help if your child is older and you’ve exhausted all free resources. When your child is calm, talk about better ways to express their emotions. Ways to work on at home:
-Buy and read age-appropriate books about emotions
-Purchase a soothing stuff animal
-Acknowledge their feelings
-Purchase or draw emotion on a wall so you’ll can identify and discus the feelings daily
14-Sharing personal property vs public property
If your child has a problem sharing, it’s a great idea to start creating moments for sharing. Also, take the time to explain personal possessions and public possession. There can be instances at school when kids must share markers, books, etc. because the property doesn’t belong to them, it’s for the entire class.
It’s also a great idea to help them distinguish the difference between for when it’s a great time to share vs not sharing. For instance, sharing your markers and playdough with a friend at school are great ideas. But not food and snacks. Remind your child, that not all kids can eat the same foods. Therefore, it’s best not to share foods because if it can make some kids very sick.
Having talks with children as it relates to diversity can be difficult, as you’re unsure what situations they may encounter or if their mature enough to understand. It’s a struggle! There’s many things happening in the world that your kid may become exposed to and it’s your right as a parent to discuss or bypass based on parental preference.
Things that you can discuss however are respect for difference and disabilities. All kids aren’t born the same and some may have physical challenges. Not all kids will understand immediately, they may need exposure to really comprehend what you’re explaining. In many classrooms all over the world, there’s inclusion learning. Therefore, some special students, may be in the same physical education class as your little one; or they may share cafeteria/hallway space. At which ever capacity, teach the importance of kindness and not staring. Open dialogue is key and familiarity with common conditions (children in wheelchairs, cerebral palsy, etc.) can reduce negative reactions. Ways you can do this at home:
-Take a trip to the library and find books on difference and talk about it
-Find cartoon shows with strong/positive related messages
-Show pictures on the internet of children with disabilities.
16-When to use “NO”
Start to teach your child the power of NO! When they feel uncomfortable, they have a right to say NO and if someone makes them feel uncomfortable, they should report it to the teacher and their parents.
There’s so much happening in the world today, we can only pray that the people in authority roles are really helping our babies and not inflecting harm. So, we must teach them to report incidents, we have to teach based on we know to report it. Which is reporting any unwanted/unsolicited incidents to teachers, principals, police, etc. But in addition, no matter who they report this to outside the home, report it to you and any other person that makes them feel safe. Things to teach your child:
-How to SCREAM NO!
-Demonstrate inappropriate touching
-Identify on his/her body parts others aren’t allowed to touch or see
It is my belief that it’s never too early to teach children about bullying. If you agree, then now is the time to have open conversations as to what bullying is, what it entails, and it’s not tolerated on either end. It’s good to have this conversation even if you know your child would never bully. We need to express the dangers and severity of this negative behavior.
If your child takes martial art classes, this is a good time to distinguish the between self-defense and bullying.
Please gather your child’s school policy for bullying during orientation so you can teach your child the proper protocol to report bullying. But in addition, no matter who they report this to at school, they need to report it to you and any other person that makes them feel safe. Things you can do at home to teach you and your child about this subject matter:
-Watch animated content teaching bullying
-Ask questions daily
One More Thing…
So that was a mouthful! But I hope you found these 17 tips to prepare your child for kindergarten helpful and beneficial for your family to feel a tiny bit more comfortable.
Mommas, know that I am with you as this will be my child’s first year in public school and I’m TERRIFIED (to say the least), but I have to trust God and pray He keeps our babies safe this coming school year and the rest of the years to follow. Although I don’t know God’s plan for my life, I’ve been praying and asking God to create a path for me creating content so that my babies will not stay in traditional school long. My pray is to become a full-time content creator and transition into home schooling my kids.
So if you’re interested in following our journey, make sure you follow us on all social media platforms and keep following the blog, because you know I’ll keep you updated!
Have a happy and safe 2023-2024 school year family!
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