10 Steps to help children transition to kindergarten

  • Parenting
  • School
It’s an exciting time! Your child has finished preschool and is ready to take on a new adventure in learning.  

By Becca Ross

Kindergarten & First Grade Teacher

Becca is a schoolteacher and blogs at homeiswheremystorybegins.com. She loves to cook, bake, garden, sew, quilt, teach and simply spend time with her family. She strives to find art in everyday things.

Posted on Tue May 12 14:00:00 PDT 2015

1. Visit The School

Many schools will offer Meet the Teacher days or have a day to tour the school with other families. Be sure to make time to participate in these. The more your child is able to spend time in their new school, the happier they will be!

2. Wait To Purchase School Supplies

Often times, parents are so excited to get their kids ready for kindergarten, that they forget to check into a possible school supply list. Your child’s teacher may have specific requests, such as no backpacks with wheels because they don’t fit in the cubbies. Many teachers even request specific brands of school supplies because they will be used as community supplies and they would like them all uniform. Sometimes kids will get their hearts set on a specific back to school item and then get very sad when they find out it is not needed in their new classroom. DO, however, purchase school supplies for AT HOME use. Having the tools to create is a very important part of the learning experience.

3. Create A Work Zone

If you and your child are itching to purchase school supplies when the early back to school sales hit, go ahead and buy them for your Homework Zone. Every school age child needs a place to do homework and create. When my kids were younger I set aside a kitchen cupboard specifically for housing art supplies. I purchased crayons, pencils, markers, oil pastels, colored pencils, a variety of paper, scissors, glue, and glue sticks. These supplies were ready to go when my kids wanted to “play school”, create a project, write a story, or finish an assignment from school. Buying these school supplies in the summer, before school actually starts will save you a lot of money. I usually stock up and save duplicate sets for later in the year, when the markers and paper need to be replaced.

4. Set Up Playdates

If you know anyone in your neighborhood with kids entering kindergarten, set up play dates at the park. If you ask your child’s new school, they may even be willing to send out an email to incoming families, letting them know when and where a park playdate is happening. Getting to know other families and new children is a great way to make connections and help your child feel comfortable when the first day of school arrives.

5. Read Books About Kindergarten

Talking about the upcoming transition is very beneficial to young children, but often kids are reluctant to discuss the big changes ahead. One way to start the conversation is through the use of children’s books. Some of my favorites include:

  • The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing
  • Countdown to Kindergarten by Alison McGee
  • Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready For Kindergarten by Joseph Slate
  • Look Out Kindergarten Here I Come by Nancy Carlson

6. Create Strong Routines at Home

Routines are HUGE once your child is in school. They will need to arrive at school at the same time each day, have a set snack and lunch time, finish homework after school each day, and be sure to get a good sleep each night. I always suggest that parents help set up these routines during the summer before kindergarten begins. My own daughter, for example, was used to grabbing a snack whenever she was hungry. Cutting her down to breakfast, a morning snack, lunch, an “after school” snack helped get her in the routine of the school day.

7. Help Your Child Verbally Communicate Needs

It’s often difficult for young children to ask for help when they need it. Remind them that the adults in the school are trusted people who they can ask for help. To practice asking for help, check out your local public library and start attending children’s programs. Have your child ask the instructor questions such as where to find a particular book or where the restrooms are. It will help your child feel comfortable with adults other than friends and family in the long run.

8. Practice Nursery Rhymes

This may seem like a strange suggestion, if your child has just finished a preschool program that uses Nursery Rhymes, but using these rhymes is a great way to create common bonds. When a child goes to kindergarten and realizes that their new teacher knows the same rhymes as their preschool teacher and their parents, they are thrilled! My own kindergarten students literally jump out of their seats because they are so excited to tell me that their mom or preschool teacher knows that same rhyme. It creates an instant connection and a bond between us. Suddenly, the teacher is not so scary because there is something in common.

9. Ask Specific Questions

Does your child have anything they worry about or questions about their new school? For many kids entering kindergarten, they are worried about the bathroom. During the open house or Meet The Teacher, ask where the bathrooms are and go check them out with your child. Whatever your child’s worries are, tell them to just go ahead and ask the teacher. There is no such thing as a dumb question!

10. Be Flexible and Patient

Everyone is in the process of change during a new school year. The school will be registering new students, changing class placements, hiring new teachers, and trying to help incoming kindergarten families learn the ropes. It’s a hectic time, so just remember to have patience. Along those same lines, have patience with your child. The transition to kindergarten might be going along smoothly, when suddenly he or she is awake multiple times during the night or having accidents, even when something like that hasn’t happened for years. Change is hard and it requires some flexibility and patience.

Kindergarten is an exciting time! Enjoy the moments and remember these 10 tips to help with a smooth transition from preschool to kindergarten!