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Our Blog: June 24, 2013

How to Prepare for a Successful Kindergarten Experience

How to Start Kindergarten RightIn our final post in the series, our experts – Dr. Susan Canizares and Dr. Heather Wittenberg – reveal how to make kindergarten a great experience by preparing in these simple (and fun) ways.

Dr. Heather: Starting kindergarten is exciting, but it can also be daunting for parents. Even with my fourth child, I worry that there are certain things I’m supposed to be doing to help my daughter  “keep up” with the other students. What can parents do to prepare their child for kindergarten, without getting caught up in the hype about achievement at such an early age?

Dr. Susan: There is a lot of hype out there, but the good news is that a wonderful preschool, plus simple, fun activities at home are the only things necessary to help her have a great kindergarten experience.

At home, you can play alphabet games with street signs, count vegetables in the kitchen, and practice with crayons, pencils, paper, and scissors. And of course read together at least 20 minutes every day. You can also help build her “soft skills” so that she can thrive during the more scheduled kindergarten day.

Dr. Heather: The “soft skills” you mentioned are just as important to success. We play a lot of “stop and go” games to improve my daughter’s self-control, and I send her on “seek and find” missions to boost her memory and organization. Plus we arrange for a lot of playtime together with friends. It helps when the parents spend time with the children to help them negotiate, take turns, and play fairly.

Dr. Susan: Parents can get themselves ready for the big jump to kindergarten, too. Remember that your child takes his cues from you, so your confidence in him helps build his own. And don’t forget to establish a solid relationship with his teacher and school, too.

Dr. Heather: I always cry on my kids’ first day of kindergarten. Letting go as they grow isn’t easy, but I try to remind myself that our job is to support them as they spread their wings!

Missed the previous posts in this series? Catch Part 1 here (The best age to start kindergarten) and Part 2 here (How to transition from preschool to kindergarten). And if you have questions for our experts, post them here!

About the Author

Dr. Heather Wittenberg

Dr. Wittenberg is a psychologist specializing in the development of babies, toddlers, preschoolers — and parents. She offers no-hype, practical parenting advice on her blog BabyShrink — rooted in science, and road tested in her own home as the mother of four young children. She has helped thousands of parents over the years and knows that the most common problems with young children — sleep, feeding, potty training and behavior — can be the most difficult ones to solve.