Getting Children Ready for Kindergarten

By: Mollie Shauger | Wednesday, June 5, 2019 | Child Care

A woman reads a book to a young girl. Reading with your child daily is good prep for kindergarten.

You’ve registered your child for kindergarten. Now that there are a few months before your child actually starts school, what do you do?

Your summer doesn’t have to be spent like a second school year, and children aren’t expected to be academic geniuses when they enter the classroom. There are some things families can do, however, to help make the transition easier.  

Visit the school and meet the teacher

If you haven’t attended an orientation or taken a school tour, contact the school and see if there is a time you and your child can come visit. The more familiar they can become with the new environment, the more comfortable they will feel.

Talk about kindergarten

Use enthusiastic language to describe a new adventure. Scholastic suggests saying things like, “You’re so lucky! It’s your turn to go to the big school!” Talk about going to the gym or carrying a lunchbox, and new people your kindergartener will meet.

Learn basic facts

Help your child learn their name and address, phone number and birthday. These items are important for them to know in emergencies. Some ways to do this are to walk down your street and point out the street sign and house number, show pieces of mail with the address on it, or show it on a phone or tablet app.

Practice basic skills

Learn the alphabet and counting to 10. Kindergarteners are expected to know how to write their name in uppercase and lowercase letters, count from one to 10 and identify basic colors and shapes. Create fun activities that could reinforce these skills like hopscotch, jump rope or “I Spy.” Also, have your child practice using a pencil to write.

Encourage independence

Help kids practice getting dressed, including buttoning and zipping, going to the bathroom on their own, hanging up their belongings, and other small tasks. Teach your child the importance of good hygiene like washing their hands and blowing their nose, and cleaning up after himself or herself.

Foster communication

Encourage them to speak up when they need something by using complete sentences like “I need a pencil.” Also, can they communicate how they are feeling to others?

Establish routines

Practice morning and evening routines that can carry over to the beginning of school.

Move around

School should provide more time for physical activity, whether during recess or gym class, or just going up and down stairs in the building. Build in time for exercises that build their balance and leg muscles, like hopping, skipping and jumping.

Read, read, read!

Make it a habit to read to your child, whether during the day or at bedtime. Have them participate, too, by asking questions about what you’re reading. The National Association for the Education of Young Children offers a list of books that are about starting school.

Social development 

Look for opportunities to socialize with other kids, especially if your child hasn’t been in a preschool or child care setting. This could include playdates, day camps, parks, libraries, and museums. See what the YMCA has to offer in your community this summer.

Learn more about the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges’ child care and early childhood education programs at

Preschool is offered at the YMCA of Greater Bergen County, East Orange Y, South Mountain Y, Wayne Yand West Essex Y. The Wayne Y also offers half-day and full-day kindergarten programs.


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