Kindergarten 101: things to do to prepare for the first of many first days to come


The first day of kindergarten is the first day of at least the next 13 years of life, so one teacher has some tips about the best way to transition your child to this new beginning.

“It’s not always academic. It’s just being ready for the environment,” Amy Neal said.

She has 22 years of teaching under her belt, and recently represented North Dakota as Teacher of the Year, so she’s got some wise words for parents – and their kids – when it comes to the first steps into school.

As she takes the time to set up her classroom, she wants families to be setting up for success, too.
She said, “It’s really important for parents to have that positive attitude and excitement.”

That positive attitude will have an impact on the transition for both the parents and children.
Informing your kids of what they can expect from the day will help them get ready for a routine, and help parents mentally prepare for potential separation anxiety.

“It could feel scary to some children and they might be nervous, and the parents might be nervous as well, and kids feed off their parents,” Neal said.

In the days leading up to kindergarten, she said to practice small routine tasks like hanging up a coat or zipping up a backpack.

“We need to make sure that those children have a good bed time. We need to make sure they have a good breakfast, and that they’re well-rested and ready for a structured routine.”

And once school starts, be sure to engage with them about their school day. Ask specific questions, that will lead to more than a one word answer.

“Ask your child about school,” Neal added, “Ask them, ‘what’s one thing that you did at school today?’ Or, ‘who’s one friend that you met today? Tell me one friend, and lets go through your backpack and see if there’s anything you need to take out.'”

Neal also advised, that if you’re able to, try to double up on school supplies.
Have things like crayons or scissors at home, too, so kids can practice their skills even when they’re not at school. 

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