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The first is the first

Get excited and roll play

An excellent way to start preparing is by talking about the nerves of the first day of school. Although little ones are sometimes excited and can't wait for school to begin to become "big kids," it's essential for the family to talk about this critical transition. 


Talk about how each of you will feel on the first day and what happens on a school day, so there are no surprises! It's also important to listen to children, answer their questions, and ease any separation concerns by assuring them that mom and dad will pick them up at the end of the day. Show excitement about all the new experiences your child will have at school so they'll be excited too. Share stories about school and read books about children and fun characters who go to school. Fun movies and videos like Sesame Street:


The role-playing game is highly playful and fun. Pretend that you are at school; pretend to be the teacher or the students and vice versa; this will help your child understand that there are norms, rules, and moments during school, it will show how fun and meaningful the school is, and your child will be excited by the time the actual event arrives.

Practice kindergarten skills.

Over the holidays, practice activities your child will be doing in class, like forming letters and holding a pencil. It's OK if your child hasn't mastered these skills when school starts. But it can ease stress for your child and help the teacher if the kindergarten classroom isn't the first place your child tries these tasks.

Kindergartners also cut out lots of shapes. If your child hasn't used kid-friendly scissors yet, now's a good time to try them out.

Sit with your child and make puzzles, draw, and practice numbers.

Set clear bedtime and morning routines.

There's a good chance your child will have a new morning routine with the start of kindergarten. Maybe it's an earlier wake-up time. Or they had to be outside and ready for the school bus.

Depending on your morning schedule, it may help to move bedtime to an earlier time. Before school starts, also run through the morning routine with your child. Practice having your child wake up on time, get dressed, and eat breakfast.

Will you be the one getting your child out the door? If not, have the caregiver handling mornings with your child try out the routine several times at least one week in advance.

Start phasing out nap time.

Many kindergarten classes have rest time. But if your child still takes naps, this break will probably be shorter than the naps your child is used to. So start cutting nap time by a couple of minutes a day before school starts. (A more straightforward rest might also help with the change to an earlier bedtime.)

Make following directions fun.

Kids in kindergarten are expected to follow directions throughout the school day. Practice this at home in fun ways. Have your child do activities with one- and two-step directions before school starts. You can do crafts or play new together. Or you could have your child help when you're cooking.

Practice belly breathing before starting a task.

Break big tasks down into smaller ones and request one at a time: Instead of "pick up your toys" – "pick up all the blue toys", "pick up the smallest toys and then the big ones"…

Ask how your child is feeling.

Kindergarten is different from other grades because there are a lot of firsts. It's a big unknown that can make kids feel anxious. Help your child get through the first-day jitters —and more significant worries—by talking. Ask, "What do you want to know about kindergarten?" Or, "You seem a little nervous. What are you thinking about?"

It might be hard for your child to understand or express these feelings. But asking questions and showing empathy lets your child know you're there.

Practice asking for help.

Your child may be nervous about needing help at school. That might be with personal things like going to the bathroom independently or getting ready to leave at the end of the day.

Explain that the teacher is always there to help if there's a problem—and that it's OK to ask. Have your child practice asking for help before the school year starts. This helps kids build the confidence to speak up for what they need when needed.

Read together.

Kindergarten is a place for lots of play. But your child will also learn the basics of reading, writing, and math. Reading to your child as often as possible helps lay the foundation for kindergarten learning. It also helps prepare kids for a listening time in the classroom.

Discover books that are good for kids starting kindergarten. And get tips on what to do if you don't have time to read with your child.

Introduce new friends.

Arrange for your child to play with kids in the same grade, or even the same class, if you can get the class list ahead of time. Try to branch out beyond kids your child already knows from preschool or the neighbourhood.

Set it up in a space where both kids will be comfortable. This might be one of your homes or a playground.

Remind your child of their strengths.

Some kids worry about not being "good enough" at doing things. Explain that kindergarten is about trying new things and getting better at old things.

Talk about things your child has done and learned in the past. Point out past successes, whether learning to tie shoes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4q2vKlvuXM) or catching a ball. Together, you can even make an "accomplishments box."

The transition to kindergarten can take a little while, and there may be ups and downs. But a little preparation can make a big difference in how your child feels about starting school.



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