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From our readers: Kindergarten prep tips

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GreatSchools Blog

By GreatSchools Staff

Introduce your child to the new environment

Visit school events.

"My first is starting kindergarten this fall," says a mom from Wisconsin. "He will be young for his class, but I think he is ready. The most difficult thing will be meeting new people and getting comfortable in his new environment. So in an effort to make this easier, we have visited the school for community functions and walked around the school. I am planning to take him to lunch at the school sometime this spring so he can get an idea of what the lunch hour is like. I am also going to contact the principal to see if we can schedule a visit during the day so that he can get an even better idea of his school day. Maybe it will also help me feel a little more comfortable sending my first child off to school!"

Visit the classroom.

Another parent has several suggestions for adjusting to the new situation: "We have visited the kindergarten at the school my daughter will attend. She visited for about an hour - she entered the room as the other kids did and then stayed with the class, without parents for about an hour. We were in the office, so if she got scared we could come right away. She loved the visit and can't wait to go back.... We also talk about how kindergarten will be different - you call teachers by their last names - and the same - you will have circle time. Of course, this meant we visited the school to find this out so we don't tell her the wrong information! We also have several books about the first day of kindergarten and kindergarten in general. We read those periodically and talk about what she thinks she'll like best."

Set realistic expectations.

It is important to build realistic expectations about kindergarten, notes the Oregon mom of a kindergartner. She writes, "One thing that we discovered too late is that kindergarten is not all 'fun.' There are lots of new rules to follow and lots of information to learn and our son was truly disappointed because he wasn't having fun every moment of every day.... I found that when I shifted the emphasis from 'what was fun today?' to 'what did you learn today?' there was a subtle shift in his expectation of school."

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.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

06/12/2009:
"this was very helpful thanks"
06/10/2009:
"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. "
06/9/2009:
"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?"
04/24/2009:
"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."
01/28/2009:
"i also have son of about 5 yrs too that i will like to atende your college. thanks"
07/29/2008:
"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. "
07/13/2007:
"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!"
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