As the first day of kindergarten gets closer, plan and practice for the big day.
- Go shopping and help your child pick out a backpack and school supplies.
- Put your child’s name on everything that goes to school!
- If your child will ride the school bus, make him/her a name tag to wear that includes your name and phone number, his/her grade level (kindergarten), and his/her teacher’s name.
- Buy things the teacher may have asked you to bring the first day – like tissues or paper towels – and talk with your child about why those things are needed and the importance of helping the teacher.
- Help your child’s kindergarten teacher get to know your child. Share important information about your child by filling out the Getting to Know My Child Booklet. (The booklet is also available in Spanish.)
- Give your child choices about what he/she:
- wears on the first day and lay out the clothes the night before
- wants for breakfast
- wants in his/her lunch the first day, if he/she takes lunch to school. (Pack the lunch the night before to save time in the morning.)
- Independence and self-regulation are highly valued in kindergarten. Children vary widely in how independent they are at five and how successful they are at managing their feelings and dealing with frustration. You can help your child by modeling and practicing expressing feelings and talking through frustrating situations. Click here for more about expectations in kindergarten.
- If your child is in preschool, the teacher might have talked about a typical day in kindergarten and maybe even practiced some of the routines – like walking in line; sharing ideas in a group; going to the gym and music room for specials; or working at tables or desks, etc. If not, you can talk with your child about school routines and make a game of practicing these skills at home.
- Talk to your child about the importance of going to school every day and being on time. Practice things that will help your child get to school on time – like:
- going to bed on time – 7:30 or 8:00 is great for most children this age
- getting up on time
- gathering supplies the night before and putting the backpack by the door
- preparing lunch the night before
- laying out clothes the night before
- making time to eat breakfast without rushing
- practicing walking or driving to school before school starts – practice during the time you will typically walk or drive when school does start
Expectations in Kindergarten
What is self-regulation? Self-regulation is managing emotions and behavior. Self-regulation is a developing skill in preschool children and can vary widely from child to child. In any given child, the capacity for self-regulation can vary throughout the day in response to distraction, boredom, overstimulation, fatigue, frustration, etc. Regulating emotions and behaviors is a major task for young children.
Children learn to manage their emotions and behaviors from the adults they observe on a daily basis, so parents and care-givers are important models of self-regulation. Children’s capacity to self-regulate is supported and nurtured by the caring adults in their lives who respond to them calmly and with gentle physical contact as needed, providing simple in-the-moment feedback and information to help children navigate challenging experiences.
As children learn to self-regulate, they are better able to make friends, share, pay attention, and learn new things. They learn to handle disappointment and to wait for things they want “right this minute.” The better children can manage their emotions and their behaviors, the more independent they become. The more independent they become, the easier the transition to kindergarten.
In kindergarten, self-regulation is expected in situations that may be very new to children. They are expected to move from one place to another in the classroom and in the halls without bothering others, to wait quietly and patiently when asked, and to use an inside voice except on the playground. These expectations can be challenging for young children.
Children vary in their ability to manage their feelings and deal with frustration. You know your child better than anyone else. You will know if he/she needs help in this area. If you think your child may need support with some of these expectations, let the teacher know before school starts, so you can work together to develop supports and strategies to help your child succeed.
Talk with your child about the expectation to be independent – about how it’s important for kindergarteners to be able to take care of themselves – like tying their shoes, going to the bathroom on their own, washing their hands, putting things away, unpacking their lunches, etc. But remember, kindergarten teachers will support children’s development in the classroom. And wherever your child is developmentally, kindergarten is a place where he/she will become more and more independent as time passes.
In the meantime, work on the things that are appropriate for your child and be creative in supporting your child for success. For example, if tying shoes is not realistic for your child on the first day of kindergarten, that’s okay, just look for shoes that don’t need to be tied.