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From our readers: Kindergarten prep tips

Check out our readers' tips for getting kids ready for kindergarten.

By GreatSchools Staff

Thanks to the many readers who shared their ideas for preparing their children for kindergarten.

Here are some of their suggestions:

Teach the basic skills

Help your child practice spelling her name, tying her shoes.

"I am doing all that I can do to prepare my child for school," an Alabama mother of a future kindergartner writes. "I want her to know how to spell her name, tie her own shoes, go to the bathroom and defend herself on her own."

Play "school" at home.

"Help your child practice spelling her name," another parent suggests. "Make sure she knows the alphabet and numbers 1-20 (by sight and by writing them down). Play 'school' so that your child will know how to properly behave in class."

Practice on car trips.

"My son and I have about a 30-minute ride to and from daycare," writes the mom of a soon-to-be kindergartner. "I bought a Magna Doodle for the car and we practice writing our letters. He copies words out of books or magazines. He practices letters and is learning to read."

Use workbooks to reinforce skills.

Workbooks are a popular kindergarten prep suggestion. A New Jersey mom shares, "My son loves the workbooks you can buy at almost any store. They have draw by numbers and color by numbers, what doesn't belong in the pictures and finding items in pictures."

Try math with Cheerios.

"My daughter is really excited to go to school," writes the mom of a 5-year-old in Illinois. "So, I make the most of this energy. I work with her preschool teacher to improve her handwriting.... My daughter now writes very neatly (except the occasional confusion with b, d, 9, P....) For math, I use Cheerios, to revise her counting and introduce the concept of addition and subtraction.... We try to teach about safety too, including how to cross the road, no opening doors, and no talking to strangers. We teach her the importance of discipline and respect for teachers."

Comments from readers

"this was very helpful thanks"
"Pretty soon my 4 in a half yr old daughter will be starting Kindergarden and Im very nervous. She did good with PreK , but there she gets to take naps. I've already explained to her that in Kinder she will not be able to take naps. It's part of becoming a big girl and growing up. Moving on to the next grade. She says she rather stay in PreK. She tends to get a little cranky when she does not take a nap, so it's kind of making me nervous. My son passed Kinder and is going to 1st grade. The good thing is that she like to follow behind him and do what he does. He gets her very excited about learning, when he does his homework she usually sits with him to watch and he explains what he has learned and tells her she will be learning it the folllowing yr. So hopefully when the school yr begins she will be ready. "
"Hi, my daughter just turned four and she has been going to preschool for the last three and a half years. She loves school and the idea of going to a 'big kids' school. However, I am nervous about how she will do in the interview process ... when the school takes the child in for observation and casual chit chat without the parents. She does well separating from her parents everyday at school but is careful around strangers and considering she will see these people for the first time on the interview day, she might put up a fight - unfortunately not in her favor or best interest. How can I prepare her for that?"
"Every night, I count to 100 to my children, usually in a foreign language. It's just like singing ABC's over and over; they know their numbers long before they enter kindergarden."
"i also have son of about 5 yrs too that i will like to atende your college. thanks"
"THANK YOU SO MUCH! I am still high with emotion right now. I have a 5 year old daughter who will be starting kindergarten next month. I have been anticipating this transition with fear and excitement all mixed up. I get your newsletters regularly, but I admit, I rarely have time to read. The one I received today one sparked my interest, and led me to your site, where I browsed for quite some time. I was looking for information on a Summer Scrapbook idea (from the newsletter- the link wasn't working), and stumbled across this: 'Celebrate Your Child's Landmark Continue a family tradition — or create one of your own Two readers described the European tradition of a 'schultuete' that made the start of school special. 'Coming from Germany, I keep the custom I grew up with. I craft together with my child a schultuete (schoolcone),' writes one parent. 'For the first day I fill it with some candy, healthy snacks, erasers, small books, colored pencils and crayons. After school the child gets to open her schultuete and is very excited about all the presents. Also before the first day I showed my child pictures of my husband and me on our first day of school with our schultuete.' You can see pictures of schultuete here.' I think I stopped breathing the whole time I read this. My mother, who passed away when I was 12 years old, was German. She loved being German, and did a wonderful job of sharing that with all of her children. I can remember her giving me my Schultute on my first day of school (the image is still clear as day in my mind). I was so happy! And it made that day so much more wonderful! Over the years, pieces of what my mother taught us has unfortunately started to fade. I had not even thought once to carry this tradition on to my children... until I came across this article. So, THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. For helping keep my mother's legacy alive, and her rich culture a part of my family's lives. My daughter will be thrilled, and I am ever so grateful. "
"This article was extremely helpful in that it directly named skills to begin teaching your child prior to preschool in preparation for the experience. It is certainly helpful to know what you have to teach them as opposed to hearing many different opinions from people & books and trying to figure it out on your own. Thanks again for the clear, concise matter of fact way that this article was written. I truly appreciate it!"