I am a staunch believer that kids NEED time off. They need time to dig in the dirt for no reason other than digging in the dirt. However, people ask me, year after year, to put together a list of things parents can do to get their kids ready for preschool and kindergarten. These five things are the things I would tell my own friends they should do to get their kids ready to go to or go back to school. So I am sharing it with you. Getting kids ready doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive but we do need to take time to prepare our kids. This is just the tip of the iceberg if you want a much more in-depth look at what kids really need, check out my dear friend Deborah J. Stewart’s new book Ready For Kindergarten.
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Reading doesn’t only help teach your child to read it also works on many of the other things on this list. Listening and taking turns are two obvious lessons children can learn while reading with a parent but what I love most is that reading a book can often open up a dialogue. This is so important. Opening up a dialogue like this lets kids express worries and other challenges they are facing.
Try books about school to get your child to open up about how they are feeling and their needs regarding going to or back to school. Further down are more book suggestions for tougher issues like anxiety, bullying, and standing up for yourself. For older children reading over the summer is imperative but if you have let it slide jump back on the reading train now so your child is ready to go back to the class with the same ability they left with.
Starting Preschool For The First Time
- Maisy Goes to Preschool: A Maisy First Experiences Book by Lucy Cousins
- Little School by Beth Norling
- My Preschool by Anne Rockwell
- Kindergarten Rocks! by Katie Davis
- Kindergarten Countdown by Anna Jane Hays
- On the Way to Kindergarten by Virginia Kroll
- Kindergarten Diary by Antoinette Portis
General School Books
- Follow the Line to School by Laura Ljungkvist
- David Goes To School by David Shannon
- I Love School! by Philemon Sturges
For the full reviews of these and more books check out our Book Section.
2. Practice Listening.
If your child isn’t used to a group setting or has been out of it since the school year ended practicing listening is a great idea. It can be very challenging for young kids to wait their turn to speak especially when excited and sometimes it doesn’t matter how many times we reminded them their impulse control is just not there yet. Work on listening in fun playful ways.
3. Practice self-reliance.
Open yogurt tubes, zip jackets, tie shoes, etc… a good rule of thumb is to only send your kids with things they can manage themselves. Teachers are happy to help but whenever a teacher is helping a child zip a coat, tie shoes, etc… that might be time away from teaching. Multiply that by 10, 15, 20 kids and it adds up.
- Try a get ready for school obstacle course. Line up your kids in their bathing suits and have them race to get dressed, get their shoes on, lunch put in the backpack, and to the finish line. Race against the clock not each other if the skill level is drastically different.
- Wood Lacing Sneaker for tying practice. This is almost identical to the one I learned on in 1982 and I like how stable it is.
- I love this Learn To Dress Monkey for practicing buttons, zippers, and snaps.
4. Talk about differences, bullying, and standing up for yourself.
School can be an anxious place for some kids and talking about that before hand can help. The following books are some of my favorites for these subjects:
- Spaghetti in A Hot Dog Bun: Having the Courage to Be Who You Are by Maria Dismondy
- Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
- The Juice Box Bully: Empowering Kids to Stand Up For Others by Bob Sornson and Maria Dismondy
- I Don’t Want to Go To School! by Stephanie Blake
- Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes
- The Kissing Hand by Audry Penn
- Jake Starts School by Micheal Wright
- Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
- The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
- Stephanie’s Ponytail by Robert Munsch
Troubles with Friends:
5. Do some fun more learning activities to get into or back into the swing of things.
Being ready for school in the early years ( preschool – 1st grade ) is much less about what kids know and much more about having them ready to learn. Making sure that they are emotionally stable to be away from the home for the length of time that they will, giving them confidence and tools to handle issues, and being ready to work in a large group where their needs will not be met as immediately as they are at home. That said doing some fun learning activities won’t hurt! Here are some of my favorites for each age group. You can also have fun by making Alphabet Crafts – my ebook .
- Kindergarten and 1st Grade