Prepping for kindergarten makes transition easier for elementary school newbies

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Preparing children for their first day of school well ahead of time relieves some of their anxieties about a more rigorous schedule. | FILE PHOTO

Kindergarten used to be a time when kids grabbed a nap in between fingerpainting and playing outside, but today’s coursework is much more rigorous and kindergartners are now introduced to concepts that were once taught in later years of elementary school. Preparing children who have never attended school for their first day could take a little time prior to the start of school.

Signing up for school

Each school district has its own requirements to begin kindergarten, so parents should familiarize themselves with their school district as soon as possible. One of the primary requirements is age. Children generally have to meet a certain age requirement (usually age 5), meaning their birthdays have to take place prior to or by a cut-off date.

Public schools will also require proof of residence. They often require utility bills with the student’s address on them. Private schools typically have more lenient residence requirements.

Most entering students also will need to have received all the necessary vaccinations. If the student has not received all immunizations, he or she will need to do so before enrolling.

Getting prepared

Some children are anxious to be “big kids” and begin school. Others may be nervous about what’s in store. The best way to prepare children is to think about enrolling them in some sort of social program. Preschool is the avenue many parents choose, but simply spending time together with other kids in a structured social setting is enough for many kids to get acclimated.

Talking about what to expect at school can also ease jitters. Parents can establish a school-like structure at home to illustrate their points. Have set times for meals and snacks, require small chores be done on time and set additional rules and limits. Bed time and wake times should be the same each day as well. Children who are unaccustomed to having structure may find the rigors of the classroom scary.

Parents should inquire about touring the school to help calm kids’ nerves. This way children will see exactly what environment they will be working in each day.

Honing skills

Children will partake in a variety of activities during kindergarten. They’ll begin learning to write and perform other activities that require fine motor skills. Parents can introduce their children to pencils, crayons, markers, and safety scissors so they can learn the proper grip and how to maneuver these tools.

It’s also never too early to read with children. Studies indicate that children who frequently read with their parents or others tend to have greater success in school. The National Education Association says that children who were read to frequently are more likely to:

Count to 20, or higher than those who were not

Write their own names

Read or pretend to read

The Educational Testing Services reports that students who do more reading at home are better readers and have higher math scores.

Kindergarten is a child’s initial foray into the world of academia. Much has changed in the kindergarten curriculum, and parents can expect their kids to be learning much more in kindergarten than they once did.

Metro Creative Connection