Planning for a Successful Start to Kindergarten

By NCLD Editorial Staff

Research shows that children entering kindergarten experience a smoother transition if their parents give them two things over the summer months - confidence and practice. Parents, and preschool providers working with parents, can give their children confidence on the first day of school by becoming actively involved in the process of entering school. The Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP)'s research brief, "Family Involvement Makes a Difference in School Success" links family involvement with success in school.

Throughout the year before kindergarten, parents and educators should initiate regular talks with their children about entering kindergarten in the fall. These talks will give children multiple opportunities to think about the upcoming school year and prepare themselves for what to expect. Starting in the spring, topics for discussion should connect to specific experiences the child will have the first day of school, like the route the school bus will take to and from home and familiarizing the child with the name of their new teacher. Another strategy that helps ease the transition to school is to introduce your child to another child in their new class. Scheduling a few summertime play dates will pay off when your child has a friendly face to greet him or her on the first day of school.

Children learn a lot of new information in preschool and pre-kindergarten. A great way to ensure they retain as much of that information as they can is to practice their new skills over the summer months. With a little bit of planning in the spring, parents and children can build a summer full of fun learning experiences. Reading Is Fundamental has designed a 10-week Summertime Reading Adventure Guide. Each week has six or seven fun and easy ideas for practicing skills that fit right into your own summer adventures. Parents can also use the month of May to speak with their child's preschool teacher about activities to do at home that will help keep learning alive over the summer.

If you would like to learn more about summer learning activities, the Michigan Department of Education has developed a guide called, "Family Fundamentals for Summer Learning." This guide stresses the importance of summer learning and provides free activities and other resources. Currently, the pilot version of the summer guide is available online. In the next few months an updated version of the guide will be posted to the site featuring additional activities to be used throughout the year.

Start the spring and summer off on the right foot. Start early to build your child's confidence and practice the skills they learned in preschool. If you do, you'll have a spring and summer filled with fun activities and a smooth transition to kindergarten in the fall.


Suggested Tip!

Read Books New Ways

Does it feel like you’ve read the same story 100 times? Read it a new way: Ask the child questions about what they think will happen next and encourage them to tell you what they see in the illustrations.
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