Kindergarten is a huge milestone for every parent and child. St. Timothy’s School believes that preparing for kindergarten is an exciting step in a child’s life that only happens once. And it is the perfect time to foster an atmosphere of learning, creativity, and independence.
Preparing for kindergarten may seem daunting, but as a preparatory school that has been a cornerstone of the Raleigh, North Carolina community for decades, St. Timothy’s School is here to help! Read below to learn more about several well-documented ways to set any future kindergartener up for success.
Teach a Few Starter Skills
While the main objective of kindergarten is to set a foundation for future learning, it helps to know a few skills going into it. Children with some prior knowledge will not only adjust well to a new learning environment, but they will also feel confident and capable among their peers.
Helping children become familiar with letter names and sounds in the alphabet can be a great place to start. Playing games with beginning sounds in words and rhyming words are also skills that will set students up for success as they learn to read and write.
Practicing fine motor skills can help students strengthen their grasp as they prepare for drawing and writing tasks in kindergarten. Activities such as threading large beads on string, using tweezers or tongs to pick up small objects, coloring, and rolling and building with playdough are great ways to work on developing fine motor skills. Children may also be ready to begin writing their names. It may be too challenging to expect lowercase and capital letters for both the first and last names, but it can be an attainable goal for children to write their first name with all capital letters.
Reading with children is another important activity for early childhood development and can help create a fun learning atmosphere. Reading aloud and teaching a few words at a time is beneficial for preparing for kindergarten because it can help kids get excited about books and learning how to read independently. The St. Timothy’s School virtual media center has some great resources to help parents get started.
Establish New Routines
The next step to take when preparing for kindergarten is to phase out nap time. While many kindergarten programs allow time for resting, it will be in a different environment and likely for shorter periods than the naps at daycare or home.
Waking up early and getting ready for school is another important routine to establish. Even if a child is an early riser, he or she is more likely not used to getting dressed, eating, and brushing teeth quickly to make it to school on time. Finding a system that works and practicing a few times over the summer helps everyone stay organized and relaxed when the school year starts.
Similar to the morning rush, bedtime routines also need to be solidified before school starts. A set bedtime will help save adjustment time—and exhaustion for the whole family—in the first few weeks of kindergarten.
While kindergarteners will always have teachers ready to help, they will need to be more independent in school than they had to be at home. For example, most children entering kindergarten should be potty-trained. Practicing how to ask to use the bathroom and feeling confident going alone can save children from feeling embarrassed or having accidents at school.
Opening their lunch is another skill that helps when a child is preparing for kindergarten. For example, they may not know how to ask for help with unwrapping an intricately-packaged lunch. Schools will ensure that every child eats, but it will be helpful for developing a sense of autonomy if a child can independently open their container, baggie, or juice box.
Being able to say goodbye to toddler toys, like a blankie or a favorite stuffed animal, is also a step towards growing up and preparing for kindergarten. These comforting objects do not need to disappear forever, but kindergarteners-to-be should feel comfortable being without them during the day. This separation can help children develop healthy coping skills and form genuine friendships with their peers.
Talk to Your Kindergartener
Aside from all of the physical and cognitive skills a child needs when preparing for kindergarten, they will also need emotional skills and to know that someone cares. Asking them how they feel about starting school will start a conversation and give parents a chance to relieve any fears. A balance between reassurance and allowing them to feel nervous is an excellent way to help children feel both understood and safe.
A soon-to-be kindergartener needs encouragement to feel confident and believe that they have the tools to do well. They need to hear that they will make new friends, the teacher is always there to help, and a parent is always only a phone call away.
An excellent way to combine both learning and easing nervousness is to read a story about starting school. There are many picture books available to help parents and children prepare for kindergarten. A beloved character going through the same situations shows them it is an exciting time and that they are not alone in what they are feeling.
Take a Deep Breath and Let Go
Preparing for kindergarten can be a significant transition period where parents may be regaining some of their independence with their children in school, while also missing the younger years. The same pep talk for a child starting kindergarten also applies to parents! Your child has all the skills he or she needs and will be taken care of at school.
St. Timothy’s School cares about each student, and every teacher is a professional who knows how to work with children individually and as a group. We believe that learning is a partnership between the school and family, so we constantly strive to fit your child’s needs and communicate effectively.
Explore St. Timothy’s
Are you preparing for kindergarten at St. Timothy’s school? Our website is an excellent resource for getting to know us. Our belief is that everyday moments set the foundation for our greater purpose in life. Our dedicated staff teaches over 570 students from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade, so we are familiar with the amazing moments and challenges that come with the many stages of growing up.
Want to get to know us more? Reach out today to start a conversation!