What Your Child's Kindergarten Teacher Wants You to Know Before School Starts
While nursery school and preschool are both important, they ultimately serve as stepping stones to get your child ready for the "Big K" — kindergarten. The first "official" level in grade school, kindergarten can sometimes be a big step from pre-k — not only for your kiddo, but for you as well — so we reached out to kindergarten teachers to find out what they really want you to know (and teach your child) before school starts, to prevent you from being totally overwhelmed.
Read through for the seven tips and pieces of advice about everything from autonomy to eye exams.
Make sure your child's ears and eyes are checked before school starts.
Oral communication and learning to read and write are some of the largest components of kindergarten, so children need to be able to hear and see as well as they can to really succeed.
Teach your child how to hold a pencil and other fine motor skills.
A child will learn new fine motor skills (and refine existing ones) as the school year goes on, but any that can be practiced before school — such as holding scissors and cutting — should be, as this will help your child to participate in the activity rather than get held up in learning the skill.
Take part in your child's education.
While the concepts taught in kindergarten may seem basic to you, they're actually more complex and academically focused than they used to be. Help out your child by making sure they get as much support as possible from you. Some things you can do:
- Help with homework and make sure they really "get it" (but don't do it for them).
- Read to your child as much as possible, rather than just once before bed.
- Point out letters and numbers wherever you see them.
- Encourage writing and drawing.
- Ask open-ended questions, and encourage them to be curious.
- Stay on top of what they're doing in school and things they like/don't like about their days.
- Volunteer in the classroom.
Talk about self-control and needs.
Every 5-year-old child has a lot of feelings — things they want to share constantly — so by helping your child to figure out when his feelings need to be communicated, you can better prepare him not only to ask for necessary help but also prevent him from causing a disruption in his and other children's learning.
Parents need to follow the rules too.
Rules at school are for the safety of the children and to make sure that every possible second of the day is utilized for education. Following the rules at your child's school will only help everything run smoother, so:
- Fill out all of the necessary forms, as well as emergency contacts.
- Bring in required supplies.
- Keep drop-offs and pick-ups brief.
- Don't bombard your teacher with issues at drop-off or in spare moments — make an appointment or send an email.
- Be sure to let the school know if there's a change in who is picking up your child from school.
- Read the school's handbook and list of rules.
Children in kindergarten need to have a lot more autonomy than they did in preschool. Some things you can do:
- Make sure they can open all of their own lunch containers themselves and stick a straw in a juice box.
- Teach them how to blow their own nose, wash their own hands thoroughly, and cough and sneeze into their elbow to prevent the spread of germs.
- Make sure your child can use the bathroom on their own and isn't afraid to go alone — also, teach bathroom etiquette like washing hands and flushing toilets.
- Teach them how to put on their own coat and tie their shoes.
Your child will be alright, and so will you.
It's OK to get emotional — both you and your child. It's likely their first full-day experience, they'll have much more rigorous days than in pre-k, and they'll be overwhelmed with the amount of change and learning. Encourage them, be there for them, and know that their teacher is there for both of you, so reach out to them if you need anything.