Start Early to Get Your Child Ready for Kindergarten

By Whitney Stevenson

Kindergarten. The word can evoke feelings of excitement and nervousness for young children and their parents.

While children are preparing to meet new teachers, make new friends, and attend a school with a principal, parents are trying to figure out the needed forms for registration, school start times, school supply lists, after-school care. And the list goes on.

The good news is that certain tips can help ease the transition to kindergarten for both children and parents.

* Talk to your child.

Talk about all the new friendships that will be made.

Talk about what it is like to have lunch in a cafeteria.

Talk about how exciting and fun it is to start school.

Many “going to kindergarten” books are available to help families spark these conversations. Check out the local library or bookstore for titles.

* “Play” school.

Sit with your child and do an activity such as Play-Doh or drawing pictures.

Pretend to be the teacher and give your child a variety of directions to follow such as drawing your favorite animal or making a shape with Play-Doh.
(For fun, switch roles and let your child be the teacher.)

* Practice having a “school” lunch.

Because school lunch times are limited, it is important for young children to be independent.

Encourage your child to start opening drinks, applesauce, yogurts, etc.

During the first months of school, it may be best to put all foods in Ziploc bags, which are easier to open than food wrappers such as granola bars and crackers.

* Visit the school and playground.

Take advantage of open houses or orientations before the first day of school.

Over the summer, look for information from your child’s school about upcoming activities.

* Set a bedtime and start it at least a week before school starts.

A good night’s rest and bedtime routine are important to learning.

Going to kindergarten is exciting! Trying these tips can help families ease the transition while focusing on the excitement of the days ahead.

FCPS Kindergarten registration for the 2012-2013 starts Feb. 13.

Visit for answers on how, when and what to bring to get your child registered!

Whitney Stevenson is the early childhood gap intervention specialist for FCPS. Her duties include coordinating kindergarten registration and helping ease the transition to kindergarten for families. Info: 381-4202 or