The summer has passed by more quickly than you thought, and now you may be panicking because you are sending a child to Kindergarten. Are they ready? Are you ready? Kindergarten is one of the largest milestones in a young child’s life, and you want to ensure you and your child transition smoothly.
Summers McBride graciously answered some of my questions about preparing for the big start to school. As a Kindergarten teacher, she offers important insight and suggestions for making the jump to Kindergarten.
Q: “What are the three to five most important things a parent can do to prepare their child for Kindergarten (in the month before school starts)?”
A: “Before school begins, you could visit the school and take a tour - visit the important places, Kindergarten hall, cafeteria, etc. Have your child practice getting in and out of their car seat so that the car line will be less stressful when starting your day or visit their bus stop and talk with your child about the procedures for riding a school bus. Have them practice writing their name with a pencil. Practice counting objects and counting aloud. And most importantly, read books together daily and ask your child questions as you read the books. There are simple things you can do to help develop pre-reading skills while reading together; for example, pointing to each word on the page as you read, having your child point to the words as you read, asking how many words are on a page,” advises McBride.
Q: “Where do you see parents putting a lot of unnecessary effort?”
A: “I think we are all guilty of this, but worrying too much about things that don’t truly matter. Things like having to have the perfect outfits, shoes, hairstyles, lunch boxes, and sparkly school supplies,” she says.
“Additionally, do not panic if your children do not know their letters, numbers, or are not reading. Children will be assessed prior to school and placed appropriately. There is a large variation in skill level for children entering school for the first year, but by the end of the year, your child will be caught up to where they need to be to enter first grade,” advises McBride.
Q: “Do you have any advice or tips for a first-time Kindergarten parent?
A: “Trust and talk with your child’s teacher often. We love your children just like they are our own, and we truly want the best for each and every child in our classroom,” she says.
“Keep the morning good-bye short, sweet, and positive. Some students are very anxious the first few days and it is very encouraging for the students if you remain calm and upbeat. Just as you know, children are able to sense when a parent is stressed or sad,” she says.
Q: “Can you recommend any good books that can help prepare a parent for the first week?”
A: “The best children’s book I know is The Night Before Kindergarten. Otherwise, I think books for parents would vary depending on the kind of child,” says McBride.
Q: “What are some great ideas if parents want to bring in a gift for their teacher the first week?”
A: “The biggest gift is having support and knowing that you have parents to help you. But for the parents who aren’t able to help out in class, I know they like to show their support and love other ways. So for me, the worst part of preparing for my day is making lunch. When a parent offers to bring me lunch that is a wonderful gift. Coffee is great, too! As far as a present, I can’t speak for all teachers but things we can use in the classroom are very helpful: Pens, stationary, tissues, Clorox wipes, hand soap, etc.,” she says.
Q: “Any other tips or pointers for moms and dads?”
A: “Just try not to worry and if you have any questions, thoughts, concerns, feel free to talk to your child’s teacher. I am huge on communication and being on the same page with parents so that things are kept consistent for children. Having great communication helps everyone involved,” advises McBride.
Good luck as you begin this very exciting and sometimes scary adventure into education. Remember these tips and try to enjoy it!
Alexa is the mother of three young children, and a freelance writer. She writes about her experiences through motherhood, and is particularly familiar with this topic as she prepares her middle child for Kindergarten in the Fall.
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