Small steps can ease transition to kindergarten

Charlene Ziegler

Charlene Ziegler

By CHARLENE ZIEGLER

Summer is almost upon us, and for parents of 5-year-olds that means only a few months remain before your little one will begin kindergarten.

Whether your child is used to an early childhood education environment or has spent the early years at home, here are some practical steps you can take to make his or her introduction to elementary school as smooth as possible:

• Foster your child’s love of reading by reading a book or two every day. Reading to your child helps expand his or her vocabulary, and asking occasional questions during the story helps build comprehension skills. You also can buy inexpensive magnetic letters for your refrigerator and encourage your child to put them in ABC order or spell simple words.

• Model social skills by showing your child how to make decisions, share, solve problems and use good manners. Teach your child such simple tasks as handling buttons, belts, zippers and articles of clothing.

• Help your child make friends by role playing, joining in a game with other children or introducing him or her to adults.

• Join the PTO and attend school functions to help you acclimate to kindergarten and show your child that you believe school is important.

Your child will be more confident starting school if he or she has an established morning and nighttime routine before the year begins. Spend a few weeks practicing going to bed early as if it were a school night and waking up early to get ready. If your child will ride the bus or buy lunch, start doing that on the first day of school while extra supports are readily available and other students are learning the same skill.

• Find out names of your child’s principal, secretary, teacher and librarian so you can begin talking about the staff in positive ways with your child.

• Talk to your child about kindergarten a few weeks before school starts. Explain all the exciting things that will happen, but also answer questions. Listen for such emotions as excitement, fear, anxiety and confusion and provide answers, comfort and reassurance to make your child feel confident about his or her new school.

Charlene Ziegler is director of Lindbergh Early Childhood Education, 4814 S. Lindbergh Blvd.