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Preparing for Kindergarten

Dear Debi,
Our granddaughter will be starting kindergarten next year. How can we make sure she's ready?
Donald & Peggy Jacques
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
  • Talk frequently with your child about her interests
  • Encourage your child’s curiosity
  • Read to your child & point out letters & numbers
  • Provide your child with writing materials
  • Encourage dramatic & outside play
Expert Advice
Connie Blackburn
Connie Blackburn
Kindergarten teacher, 2003 California Teacher of the Year
There are many skills which can prepare kids for kindergarten. Early math skills are important, such as counting, number order, and being able to understand one-to-one correspondence. Early literacy skills are also important. Skills like rhyming are important. In fact, people forget that activities such as nursery rhymes and playfulness with language are so important to help kids learn about language and promote literacy. Any kind of play with ABC's and books about the alphabet helps with language and literacy skills. Kids should also learn to write their names in appropriate case – not using all capitals. Many times, what adults will discover is that most kids love to write their names – it’s empowering to children.

Kids learn through play. Their imaginations are going wild and developing that sense of wonder. Outdoor play is also so important, for their physical and emotional health. In addition to all the make-believe and pretend play, we should give kids some real life experience. If a child likes bugs, get some books that can teach her about bugs, in a real-world way.

We should also be helping kids learn how to focus on a task for 10-15 minutes. That’s a skill that will definitely be important once they start kindergarten. Showing our kids what empathy is and how to have empathy for others is another important skill. This is what begins to enable children to build friendships and think about how others may be affected.

Preschool is a great way to begin preparing kids for kindergarten. In preschool, children usually learn to wait their turn, share and get along with others. If a child isn’t able to attend preschool, parents should try to get them play dates with other children and provide other social opportunities for them.

It's crucial for parents to visit the classroom their child will be entering as early as the spring before their child is scheduled to begin. It’s important that that they can envision their child there. Parents who have a lot of information about what's going on in the classroom have more time to get onboard. Sometimes parents will visit the classroom and see that their child doesn't have all the skills they think are necessary for kindergarten. Their kindergarten teacher can give them tips about what they can do with their children to help get them ready.
Caregiver Comments
Roger Pérez
Roger Pérez
Father of Two
To help prepare my son for kindergarten, we have been reading to him every night. He has been using writing instruments, such as pens, crayons and pencils. We also learn a word of the day. It is important for us to provide him with a “print rich environment.”
Ashlee Durr
Ashlee Durr
Cares for her niece and nephews
I noticed that my four-year-old cousin was struggling with her social skills. She wasn’t respecting the feelings of others. She was talking out of turn. Her parents weren’t respecting her because they were talking over her and not taking the time to teach her about change. So I worked with her parents and showed them what they could do differently to help her.
Beth Collier
Beth Collier
Child care provider for 22 years and mother of three
I also take a holistic approach. Many people think of school readiness as only dealing with academics, but it’s more than just books. A much broader set of skills and preparation are needed when dealing with a child’s self awareness as you prepare them for kindergarten. If they don’t love going to preschool, it’s going to be hard to get them to go into kindergarten.

Puzzles, Number Games & Wood Sculptures Featured Activity:
Puzzles, Number Games & Wood Sculptures
Preparing for Kindergarten Featured Video:
Preparing for Kindergarten
Topic: Child Development
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