Ask EdNavigator: Preparing for Kindergarten

New Orleans Moms Blog recently invited readers to submit questions about schools and education to EdNavigator, a new nonprofit organization working to help New Orleans families keep kids on track from preschool to college. The first of the top two questions is answered below, and we look forward to responding to more in the future. Got a question about your child’s education? Post it in the comments below or email it to [email protected]!

New Orleans Moms Blog readers Tracy and Andie ask :: How do I prepare my soon-to-be kindergartner for school?Preparing for Kindergarten

We hear this question all the time. It’s understandable; sending a child off to kindergarten can be nerve-wracking for any parent. On the one hand, we’re proud to see them take such a big step – and often thrilled to get them out of the house. On the other, it’s a little terrifying. These are our babies we’re talking about. Will they be ready? Will they make friends? Will they know how to find the bathroom? We want them to do well, to be happy, to come home in the same clothes they wore in the morning.

Getting your child ready for kindergarten isn’t too hard, but it does mean more than buying them a backpack and knowing when the bus comes. Start early, and focus on helping them practice the skills they’ll need to start school strong and be comfortable in a classroom. Here are five simple ways you can do that:

  1. Read with your child at least 15 minutes every day. Reading out loud to your child is one of the most important things you can do for them as a parent. It exposes them to new words and ideas, it helps build language skills, and it’s a great way to have some quiet time together. Make it part of your bedtime routine, if it’s not already. Read, read, read.
  2. Ask your child to name and sound out letters. Knowing the alphabet means more than just singing the ABC’s. Point to letters you see and have your child name them and the sound they make. Work on uppercase and lowercase, and have them practice tracing letters on paper or writing them with a finger in flour or shaving cream.
  3. Practice numbers and basic math. How many cars are outside? What number is that bus? Are there more crackers or raisins? Look for chances to talk about numbers with your child and try free apps like Bedtime Math to make it fun.
  4. Practice social skills. Part of being successful in school is knowing how to make friends and get along with other kids. Help your child practice sharing things, saying “please” and “thank you,” not interrupting others, introducing themselves, and waiting their turn.
  5. Try new things and practice not giving up. At school, our kids are exposed to new challenges and activities every day. Being willing to try new things and keep trying even when something is hard are critical skills for them to learn.

For more detailed suggestions, check out our free guide, How to Prepare Your Child for Kindergarten.

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