Back-to-School Tips for Parents
Going back to school may create many different feelings in your child – excitement, uncertainty, fear and worry. Being prepared for this change can help ease your child’s jitters and help your child quickly adjust, so he or she can get the most from school. The early education experts at The Family Conservancy offer these helpful tips:
- Ensure your child gets a good night's rest and eats healthy meals. Kindergarten requires a lot of energy! You can be sure your child does his or her best by getting to sleep early and eating a healthy breakfast each day before school. Set up a nightly routine so your child goes to bed early and at a consistent time each night. Encourage healthy eating by having healthy snacks on hand for after school as well.
- Continue encouraging your child to do things for him or herself. Activities such as getting ready for school or learning to tie shoes and zip coats give a child independence and self-confidence. If your child accomplishes this at home, she will feel able to do new things at school. Your child will be proud of your confidence in him or her as well.
- Talk in a positive way about your child’s coming year at school.
- Help your child learn her full name, address and telephone number.
- Talk to your child about his feelings about starting school. Let him know it’s okay to be scared and excited.
- Check out books from the library about children starting school. Read and discuss the stories with your child.
- Pretend play “school” with your child. Take turns being the teacher.
- Get organized with backpack and school supplies. Label your child’s belongings with his name and help him to recognize it in print.
- Treat beginning school as part of the normal course of events
- Answer honestly all your child's questions about school and what to expect
- Make goodbyes short and cheerful. Even though the goodbye may be hard for parents, try not to let your child see you cry as you say "goodbye". Many children are worried about what their parents will do without them. It makes it hard for them to focus on what is happening at school because they are concerned that their parents are missing them too much. See more tips on saying See more tips on saying goodbye.
- Visit your child’s classroom before school starts (spend some time on the playground) This gives your child a visual picture of where he will be. Don’t forget the playground. It’s an important part of your child’s day at school.
- Help your child learn his full name, address, and telephone number
- Explain to your child how he will get to and from school
- Get organized (find a backpack and label school supplies)
Begin a regular morning and nighttime routine well before school starts
Establish a normal routine the first few days of school
Prepare yourself and your child by offering reassurance
Reinforce what time you will be together again
- Walk your child to school or to the bus stop. If your child will be riding the bus: Take him or her to the bus stop the first day-and every day-of school. If this is not possible, have an older sibling or trusted neighbor take your child to the bus. Stay at the stop until the bus leaves. Make sure your child has daily supervision at the bus stop. Become acquainted with other children at the stop. If you are walking your child to school: Say goodbye outside the classroom door or on the playground. Make sure your child knows the teacher's name and where his or her classroom is located.
- Contact the teacher in the first few weeks after school starts. Call the teacher and set up a time to talk. When you meet, tell the teacher about your child and family. Ask questions like, "What should I expect my child to learn this year?" Review all the transition materials you've received from Head Start and your school district.
Skills for Kindergarten
Below is a list of skills that most five-year-olds possess and was compiled from various sources. If your child can do most of the items on this list, he is well prepared for a successful kindergarten experience.
- Knows full name, address, and telephone number
- Prints a few letters, especially those in own name
- Recognizes own printed name
- Cuts on a line continuously
- Plays well with 2-3 peers
- Draws and colors beyond a simple scribble
- Participates in dramatic play
- Knows left hand from right hand
- Is curious and creative
- Draws detailed person
- Attends to stories and books
- Separates from parent easily
- Speaks in full sentences
- Buttons and zips own clothing, laces shoes
- Expresses needs
- Cares for self at toilet and washes hands
- Understands concept words such as "more", "less", and "some"
- Knows major visible parts of the body
- Names the shapes - circle, square, and triangle
- Uses prepositional words such as "up", "down", and "top"
- Matches and names three or more colors
- Tiptoe and heel walk
- Rote counts to 20
- Walks up and down stairs on foot per step
- Matches and sorts objects
- Hops on one foot at least 2-3 hops
- Counts sets of one to four objects and tells how many
- Identifies penny, nickel, and dime
- Walks backward heel to toe
- Walks on balance beam, forward and backward
- Throws and catches ball
- Traces a triangle
- Balances on one foot for five seconds
- Copies horizontal and vertical lines