Apr 30 2010

Preparing Your Child for Kindergarten by Sara Shaw from the Houston Examiner

Kindergarten is a big step! The social circle is expanding rapidly beyond caregivers, and the child is becoming more aware of self and others. There has been much research on which skills children need to get ready for kindergarten. The Kindergarten Entry Skills project (McIntyre, 2007) surveyed kindergarten teachers and identified skills they look for in incoming kindergarten students. According to the Kindergarten Entry Skills survey, skills include the ability to:

  • separate from parents without excessive crying
  • manage own bathroom needs
  • verbalize needs and wants
  • sit through an age-appropriate story without interrupting
  • work independently for short periods of time
  • follow simple directions
  • respect limits and rules
  • care for belongings

Ways to Increase Children’s Social-Emotional Competency for Kindergarten:

Familiarize your child with the new school before it starts:

• play at the school playground during the summer
• find out who’s in the class and arrange play dates during the summer
• invite classmates and their parents over during the summer

Get your child excited during the weeks leading up to kindergarten:

  • Talk to your child about the positive changes that will occur when he/she goes to kindergarten. Share about all of the fun, new experiences and activities that “big kids” get to participate in while they are in school.
  • Let your child assist when purchasing school clothes and supplies. After bringing the items home, let your child talk about all of the wonderful things that he/she will be able to make with the new crayons, glue, scissors, etc.

Provide your pre-k child with reading experiences that discuss going to kindergarten

Reading books about a potentially stressful situation, with a parent, can take the stress out of the situation. Here are a few book suggestions parents can share with their child:

  • Ready for Kindergarten by Sharon Wilkins [Zondervan, 2000]
  • Let’s Get Ready for Kindergarten! by Stacey Kannenberg [Cedar Valley Publishing, 2006]
  • Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate and Ashley Wolff

Read, read, read to your child every day! (Reasons to turn off the TV and read with children)

Talk to your children about their feelings: help them name feelings, understand and express them; this affects how children view themselves and others, and helps them cope with stress (Raising an emotionally intelligent child)

Give your child a chore to do during the summer to develop a sense of responsibility and self-esteem

Make sure your child gets plenty of sleep, and establish good routines for going to bed at night and getting up in the morning

Provide your child plenty of opportunities to get outdoor exercise and spend quality time with family and friends

Expect regressive behavior before kindergarten starts: children may rely on previously acquired self-comforting behaviors to help manage any fears

  • shyness
  • thumb sucking, needing a blanket
  • clingy behavior

As school and new classmates become more familiar, self-comforting behaviors will occur less frequently.

Visit SF K Files– a place for parents who are seeking a kindergarten in San Francisco. The site offers up reviews of public, private, and parochial schools, as well as lots of advice and opinions from the community of parents who frequent the blog.

Sara Shaw, M.S., MFT is a Consultant for the Family Service Agency of San Francisco and has a private practice in Pacific Heights (www.sarashaw.com)

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