15 Ways to Be Ready for Kindergarten

1.               Talk with your kid often.

Talk about what you see and do. Make up stories. Sing songs. Rhyme. Tell Jokes. These things help your child learn about words, language and the world.

2.               Read to your child daily.

It’s key to helping your child learn how to read. It can be a great part of a bedtime routine too. As you read each word, point to it. Ask your child to guess what might happen next or to retell the story. Go to the library together. Let your child help pick books. Choose some on kindergarten.

3.               Teach the ABC’s.

Help your child learn the alphabet and relate places or things to each letter. When you see an “A,” for example, point it out. Say, “A is for apple and ant.” Also point out words your child sees often in the world. For example, look for common words at the grocery store.

4.               Count together.

Count birds on a wire, people in a checkout line-anything! Point out numerals, too. If you see a “3,” for example, say “Show me 3 fingers.” Compare things. Use words such as more/fewer and bigger/smaller. In time, talk about what happened if you take 1 item away – or add 1.

5.               Explore shapes, colors and more.

Teach your children basic shapes and colors. Sort and match, too. For example, have your child help you sort laundry and match socks. Or ask your child to spot 3 things that are red or square. Have your child guess what comes next in repeating patterns, too – such as red, blue, green, red, blue…?

6.               Encourage coloring and scribbling.

These are pre-writing skills! Along with using safety scissors, these exercise fine motor skills – and your child’s creativity. Encourage your child to copy letters and numbers, and to write his or her name, too.

7.               Learn about the school.

Request the school handbook and information on kindergarten. Learn about registration requirements and dates. Meet the teacher. Talk about your child and his or her abilities. Ask for tips on helping your child succeed. Also, ask about chances to volunteer.

8.               Put your child at ease.

Discuss what the school day will be like. Encourage questions. Let your child know it’s OK to be nervous. Stress the fun things your child will do and learn, and the friends he or she will make. Be upbeat! Before classes start, take your child to visit the teacher, classroom and schoolyard. Practice getting to and from school. Try to arrange play dates with future classmates, too.

9.               Use instructions.

Help your child practice following simple instructions. For example: “Please hang up your coat. Then, wash your hands. Then, meet me in the kitchen.”

10.             Work on making friends.

Teach how to share, take turns, say “please” and “thank you,” respect other people’s things and solve problems with hitting.

11.              Use routines.

They’re good for you and your child. Create routines for bedtime and walking up, laying out school clothes the night before, and eating breakfast. Give your child 3 healthy meals, plus healthy snacks, each day.

12.              Get your child moving.

Children need plenty of physical activity. Encourage running, dancing, hopping, climbing and catching balls. Make it a family affair! (Consult with your child’s health-care provider before starting an exercise program.) To ensure time for activity and schoolwork, limit “screen time” (TV, internet or video games) to no more than 2 hours per day.

13.               Teach good hygiene.

Help your child learn to use the restroom without help. Get him or her in to the habit of washing hands often and well. Also teach him or her how to cover coughs and sneezes.

14.              Teach safety.

Make sure your child knows his or her full name, address and telephone number, and how to contact you. Teach your child to only cross a street with an adult and to look left-right-left before crossing. Practice waiting at bus stops safely, and go over rules for when your child is on the bus.

15.               Get your child immunized.

Ask the school and your child’s health-care provider about any vaccines your child may need before starting school. (A checkup may also be required.)