Starting kindergarten can be a big adjustment for both children and their families! Helping your child be fully ready for kindergarten can create a smooth transition to school. Your positive attitude will influence their feelings and get them excited for learning. When your child is prepared for kindergarten, they are more likely to have a good school experience.
What to Expect on the First Day of Kindergarten
It’s important to help your child get familiar with their new schedule before their first day. Most kindergarten classrooms break up the day into smaller 15-20 minute activities.
Kindergarten teachers structure activities by following the same schedule each day, so your child will start to rely on routines to know what to expect next. When children understand the order of events in their world, they begin to feel more confident and prepared.
Before your child starts school, talk about important routines and common situations—and practice role playing them together, such as:
- Getting ready for school and leaving the house on time
- Traveling to and from school each day
- Dropping off your child and leaving them at school each day
- Having your child ask their teacher for help
- Encouraging your child to make friends with other students
- Discussing afternoon pick up at the end of the day
- Establishing after-school routines, activities, and homework time
- Creating a bedtime routine so your child wakes up refreshed and ready
How to Give Your Child a Head Start for Kindergarten
Most children start kindergarten at 5 years old, yet it’s normal for all of the children in one class to be at different skill levels when they first start school. For example, some kids may know the entire alphabet and a few power words, while other children may still be learning to identify the letters in their name.
You can give your child a head start in kindergarten by spending a little time each day doing activities that support early learning. One simple way is to take advantage of PreK learning programs, including Waterford Upstart, which is a free program that helps children build foundational skills and prepares them to learn in kindergarten.
Kindergarten Readiness: Skills and Activities to Practice
Here is a handy list of kindergarten readiness skills with links to activities that can help your child practice them. Some of these may be used starting on the first day, while others will develop over the course of the school year. Just a little practice each day helps build those skills!
You can use this list to help prepare your child for what to expect at school:
- Communicating with others, including raising hands and waiting to talk
- Following directions and developing listening skills
- Using self-control skills, such as keeping hands and feet to themselves
- Practicing kind behaviors and working well with others
- Discussing their interests and exploring them with hands-on activities
- Talking about the order of events through the day
Reading and Writing
- Identifying lowercase and capital letters of the alphabet
- Learning letter sounds and writing words phonetically
- Learning how to spell power words like “the,” “and,” or “to”
- Telling favorite stories and singing songs like nursery rhymes
- Drawing and writing about their experiences
- Identifying basic shapes
- Recognizing and counting numbers 1-10
- Understanding basic addition and subtraction stories
- Understanding concepts such as “how many”
- Creating patterns and sorting objects into groups by color and size
- Identifying money such as pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters
Your child’s kindergarten curriculum may differ depending on the state and district where they are registered for school. You can ask their teacher for guidance if you have questions about the exact topics your child will explore in kindergarten.
Need more ideas? See if there’s a Waterford Upstart program in your area. You can also get more kindergarten readiness activities sent straight to your inbox by signing up for Early Learning Boost emails!