As a first-time mom sending my almost 4-year-old son (Zak) to junior kindergarten, you can imagine my anxiety being at an all-time high. Naturally, I’ve been coping with it the only way I know how (with the help of my husband and Zak’s preschool):
- Making lists
- Implementing an action plan
I shared how overwhelmed I was, and the response from my Instagram community was amazing. I got words of encouragement, recommendations for school supplies, and fantastic tips to prepare Zak for kindergarten.
Every school and curriculum is different so I recommend reaching out to your child’s teacher about what the readiness and academic expectations are. However, I found these five tips to act as a helpful guide to prepare Zak (and us!), so I’m sharing for any parents out there on the same boat as us.
Bonus! Be sure to scroll to the bottom and download a kindergarten supplies checklist for free.
Here are 5 actionable ways you can help prepare your child for kindergarten.
1. Make sure they are potty trained
This is a non-negotiable. Children are expected to be toilet trained, meaning that they can go to the bathroom on their own, do their business, clean and wash up, without the help of teachers. Of course accidents can happen and I’m hoping there is assistance if they occur, but one big tip is to keep extra set of clothes in their backpack (or wherever the teacher prefers) just in case.
2. Teach them how to dress and undress themselves
As part of toilet training, children should be able to take off their clothes and put them back on, and for this, teachers suggest to keep clothing as simple as possible: basic shirts (avoid buttons or zippers), elastic bottoms, and velcro shoes!
We are in the process of switching up Zak’s existing room a bit so he has a cute little area to get dressed in the mornings.
3. Encourage them to say and recognize their full name
I’m not sure if this is mandatory, but it’s highly encouraged for children to be able to recognize their first and last name (capital and lowercase) in writing and when someone calls it out.
A couple of fun things you could try:
- Introduce a new game and play ‘Class Attendance’ by calling out some names, and encourage your child to raise his hand when he hears his name
- Write your child’s name a few different ways on paper (capital letters, lowercase, block letters, cursive, etc.) and stick them around the house temporarily, or if they enjoy crafts, you can get them to paint or colour the letters until they are able to recognize it when they see it
4. Teach them to open and close their lunch containers and water bottles
Maybe this is obvious, but it actually didn’t occur to me at all until someone mentioned it. How else will they eat their lunch or snacks if they can’t figure out how to open the container?! As soon as we pick up all his school supplies we’ll get him to start practicing how to open and close his lunch containers, water bottles, lunch bag, backpacks, etc.
5. Label EVERYTHING
I can’t tell you how many times Zak has come home with a hat from daycare that wasn’t his, or multiple children having the same winter boots. We order Mabel’s Labels in bulk (they’re super cute and durable) and use the stickers on all of his belongings. I’ve even seen photos of the labels on stationary like pencils and erasers!
FREEBIE: KINDERGARTEN SUPPLIES CHECKLIST
Here is a teacher-approved checklist of supplies and stationary essentials needed for a successful Kindergarten year. Feel free to save and print. Happy shopping!
Photos by Jill D. Photography