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How to Prepare for Kindergarten

Updated on March 25, 2019
Stina Caxe profile image

Cristina is a business professional who has a degree in art and a degree in psychology. A mother of two, community volunteer and writer.

Are you really ready?

After two years of preschool, my daughter knew how to write her name, she knew her colors, how to sing the alphabet and how to count to ten. She learned a lot of other things in preschool which made me think she would be leaps and bounds ahead in kindergarten. Boy was I in for a shock. As I sat in her kindergarten orientation, I was shocked at everything she was supposed to learn throughout her first year. Kindergarten was not all about coloring and cutting and pasting anymore! I figured she was smart, she could handle it. Unfortunately she struggled greatly.

My daughter was not happy about her first day of kindergarten

Keep them focused!

One thing to keep in mind is that your child needs to learn to focus on things for long periods of time, at least ten to fifteen minutes. You can help your child learn to focus by not letting him interrupt your conversations, and making him wait at the table until everyone is done eating. Other ideas include making a game of educational things. Like giving your child a newspaper page and ask him to color over all the letter B’s he finds. Play games with your child that will keep his attention while helping him learn and develop skills. Games such as I Spy, (Use shapes as well as colors or even letters!) and red light green light. Talk to your child and be descriptive of objects you find while on a walk or at a park. If your child enjoys craft projects, a good idea is to go to the park and take pictures, then print out the pictures and let your child make a scrapbook. Let him label the pictures himself, learning how to spell words like “tree” or “grass” or “leaf.”

Playing School.

Playing school with your child is a good idea, but make it enjoyable. Whether you child has been in preschool or not, kindergarten will be a lot different. If you want to play school to get your child ready for real school, don’t focus only on lessons and learning. Keep in mind all of the things your child will experience in school, such as art class, music class, lunch in the cafeteria, the library, even the principal’s office. Prepare your child for class by teaching him to raise his hand before asking or answering questions. If you can include siblings or friends for a play school session that would be fantastic. Use bells or even a whistle to begin and end the day.


How well does your child follow directions?

Sometimes children have trouble following multi-step directions. The key to helping your child develop this skill in order to prepare for school and well, for life, is practice and consistency. For example, when I tell my children to clean their rooms they are often lost. They end up getting distracted and just playing with their toys. The solution I came up with was to sing a song from one of their favorite television shows and incorporate it into their task. The show I am talking about is Special Agent Oso. If you have never seen the show, it is about a bear who goes on missions to help children accomplish tasks. Each task involves three steps. The show in itself is a great teacher for multi-step directions however I am a firm believer in learning by doing. So for getting my kids to clean their room this is the version of the song I made up to sing to them…

Three special steps, that’s all you need. Three special steps, and you’ll succeed. Your special assignment is starting now, and three special steps will show you how. Step 1.. Put the toys in the toybox! Step 2.. Put the clothes in the hamper! Step 3.. Put the trash in the trashcan!

Three special steps, so now you know. Three special steps and you’re ready to go! The checklist has all the steps you need. Just follow them all and you will succeed with three special steps!

Another good idea is to get your child used to having to stop doing what they want to do in order to do something they have to do. So while your child is in the middle of a television show or playing a game, that is when you should have them stop and take time out to complete a task. After all, recess doesn’t last as long as your child wants it to last. They need to learn to manage not wanting to do something but having to do it.

3 Special Steps Song

Socializing with other children.

This is a huge problem for my daughter and something I wish I would have addressed more before she started school. My daughter has selective mutism and she is afraid to be vocal around other children. She talks around her little brother and her cousins but never said a word to any of the kids in preschool or kindergarten. My daughter is a different case, but like her all children do need to learn how to act among their peers. After all teachers expect their students in kindergarten to share, take turns and play together without a lot of supervision.

Playdates are of course beneficial to teach social interaction. Getting involved in child group activities is also a good idea. During this summer while my children are not in school they are still socializing in groups by playing t-ball. However when little kids play together there are bound to be conflicts. I remember visiting a friend while her daughter was having a sleepover. Her daughter wanted to watch a movie while her friend wanted to play with toys. If something like this happens take a moment before you step in. Children need to learn how to solve problems themselves. If they do come to you, help them strategize by providing options to help solve the problem rather than telling them what to do.

What can your child do on her own?

For some children, starting school means being away from their parents for the first time. Sometimes the inability to carry out a simple task will create extra anxiety. Take time before your child begins school to make sure he knows how to do the simple things that he will not have you to do for him. Personal need such as washing his hands or going to the bathroom are obvious. Other things you may not think of include zipping up his jacket. If you plan on packing a lunch for your child, let him practice opening his lunchbox and see what he is able to unwrap himself. It took a while for my daughter to figure out juice boxes, but there are still items she cannot unwrap herself and I often have to make sure the package is a little bit open or repackage something before I put it in her lunch.

What school work should you introduce your child to?

You might be shocked (like I was) to learn that by then end of kindergarten your child will have to know a vast amount of new things. Some of these include: All the letters of the alphabet, recognizing words (I believe my daughter had to know 80 out of a hundred something words in order to pass), how to write all the letters and write the words they studied and even write simple sentences, recognizing rhyming words, how to write numbers and count to 100, also how to count backwards from ten and to 100 by tens, how to recognize pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters and write their values, how to recognize shapes and patterns as well as many other things.

One of the best ways to get your child ready for all this is making a game out of recognizing these things. Games like “I Spy” with not just colors but shapes, letters and numbers will work wonders. Be creative and find ways to have your child search for what you want him to learn. Even driving in the car my daughter will make a game of telling me what shapes or colors the road signs are, or what letters and numbers she sees on them.

Starting kindergarten can be a scary thing, not just for kids but for parents as well. Br brave, stay focused and make it a positive experience. Being prepared is always the key. Help your child get ready to start school and don’t forget to maintain interest during the school year. Always help with homework and studying and keep your child involved in activities as much as possible. Participation in school activities will show your child you are interested and help him become interested as well.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2015 Cristina Cakes


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