How to Prepare Your Child for Kindergarten: Wisdom from a Kindergarten Teacher
Parents who have children entering kindergarten in the fall may wonder what they can do at home to prepare their children for the transition. To help answer this question, Mrs. Booth, one of Trinity’s fabulous kindergarten teachers, offers the following advice.
1. Familiarize them with letters and numbers in context.
One key step that will set children up for academic success in kindergarten is to start teaching them to recognize and understand the basics of letters and numbers. While this material will be covered in class, being familiar with it beforehand will give them a leg up and ensure smooth academic sailing. Aside from practicing with flashcards, Mrs. Booth recommends using real-life situations to get them used to using letters and numbers in context. Consider practicing the following techniques:
- When you’re in the car together, point out letters on road signs like the “S” in “STOP.”
- Build different letters using building blocks or Legos.
- Practice recognizing certain stores or restaurants by their logos (e.g., recognizing McDonald’s by the golden “M” or Target by the red target symbol).
- As they eat a snack, help them to recognize how many gummies or pieces of cereal they have. As they eat their snack, begin teaching them subtraction by asking how many they have left.
2. Practice separating from them.
Going to kindergarten comes not only with new academic challenges, but also with new social and emotional challenges. Each child is unique and has a different reaction to being separated from a parent for an extended period of time. Particularly if you’ve never practiced separating from your child, make sure that he or she comes to kindergarten emotionally equipped to do so. Consider dropping your child off at daycare or a playdate several times before coming to kindergarten in the fall.
3. Allow them to interact with their peers.
Getting your child socially ready for kindergarten is more difficult than normal this year because of COVID-19 concerns. However, once children come to kindergarten in the fall, they will be in a class with many other children and will need to be able to interact with them appropriately. Mrs. Booth recommends doing what you can to socialize your child as much as possible before the school year begins, even if that’s via Zoom. In-person interaction is preferred, but anything is better than nothing.
4. Give them special jobs at home.
In Mrs. Booth’s class, every student has a special role to play, whether it’s the Paper-Passer, Scrap-Monster, or Light-Switcher. Giving children unique jobs not only builds their self-confidence by giving them a sense of purpose and responsibility, it also teaches them how to serve others by sacrificing their time and energy for the good of the group. Service is one of the core tenets of Trinity’s curriculum, and Mrs. Booth does everything she can to instill it in little ones. To practice this at home, Mrs. Booth suggests having your child:
- match socks when mom or dad is doing laundry. (It doubles as practice with matching!)
- put napkins out for dinner time or help set the table.
- help unload the dishwasher and put all the silverware in its right place. (Once again, this doubles as sorting practice.)
5. Teach them to manage their personal belongings.
While it may be easier to clean your child’s room yourself, holding children accountable to clean their own spaces teaches them about personal responsibility and ownership, and prepares them to keep a tidy desk in class. The more responsibility you can give to them, the more confident they will feel coming into kindergarten. Before starting kindergarten, Mrs. Booth recommends that your children be able to:
- carry their own lunchboxes and schoolbags without help.
- put on their coats and zip them up without help.
- use the restroom without assistance.
- strap into their own car seat (to avoid holding up the carpool line).
6. Teach them about God through your example.
When attending a Christian school like Trinity, one of the best ways you can support both your student and the teacher is by providing a basis of faith at home. When parents and teachers act in true partnership so that children are being spiritually fed both at school and at home, the child can truly thrive and grow spiritually. Involve your children spiritually at home by:
- praying together often (at meals, before school, and/or before bed).
- studying the Word together as a family.
- attending church regularly, including Sunday school for your little one.
- teaching them about God in real-life context (e.g., pointing out God’s providence at the dinner table, leading them in prayer when they’re scared or anxious, taking every opportunity to point them to truth).
About the Author
Jo Wilbur is a Communications Specialist at TCS and proud JMU grad who loves writing, shopping, and making new friends. She and her husband live in Purcellville and spend time together cooking plant-based meals, singing worship songs, and volunteering as Young Life leaders in their community.