Baby steps to big-kid leaps: Preparing your child for kindergarten

Entering kindergarten is a big milestone for both a children and their parents. Preparing early for this event will help ease both of you into this new phase.

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  • For many families, the transition into kindergarten is a milestone that is looked forward to with both anticipation and apprehension. As parents, we want our children to be ready to face school without us by their sides, but how can we best prepare our kids to go it alone when they start school?

  • All it takes is a lot of love and some attention in these few areas to make your little kindergartener a success in school.

  • Socially Savvy Kids

  • For some children, kindergarten will be their first experience spending the majority of the day with other kids. Try spending a little extra time making sure your kids know how to get along well with others.

  • You can schedule playdates or find a more structured activity, such as preschool, swimming lessons, gymnastics or group music, where your child can learn to make friends and interact without constant adult supervision. Parents can help their children learn even faster by modeling appropriate sharing skills and arming kids with ideas on how to handle conflict. Make sure your child knows how to face disagreements without resorting to violence. Also, reassure your child that he can talk to a teacher or teacher's aide if he feels bullied.

  • Aiming for academic success

  • Most schools spend the kindergarten year working on basics, such as phonics and writing as well as number and color recognition and simple patterns. Plan to start introducing these concepts to your child one year to six months before she starts school. Kids who feel like the cirriculum is familiar will learn new concepts faster.

  • Don't be worried if you don't have a background in teaching. Kids learn by having fun, so try to work mini-lessons into your everday life. Point out the letters that make up your child's name on street signs, and let him push the buttons in an elevator to work on number recognition. You can also make simple labels for familiar objects in his room, and ask him to identify the color of the clothes he is wearing. You can help your future kindergartener with fine motor development by encouraging coloring and tracing letters.

  • Get bitten by the reading bug

  • The most effective way to get kids excited about learning is to get them excited about reading. If you aren't already reading daily with your child, make an effort now to carve out some cuddle time with a picture book each day.

  • If you have a reluctant little reader, find picture-only books and let her "read the pictures" to tell you the story. You can also find books that include her name, or read books that feature a favorite television or movie characters. Kids also enjoy reading more when they are able to pick their books themselves, so trek on down to your local library and let your budding reader make a few selections of her own.

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  • Books can be helpful in easing fears about starting school. There are many great books available that address fears about starting school. Check out "Lllama, Llama Misses Momma" by Anna Dewdney, "Jake Starts School" by Michael Wright, and "Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes" by James Dean to get the conversation started.

  • Get familiar with the school

  • Right before school starts, make a point to tour the school your child will be attending. Let him see the lunchroom, gym and library, and schedule a time to meet with his new teacher, if possible. This short family field trip will work wonders when it comes time to leave mom and dad on the first day of school.

  • Be positive when talking about school with your child. Kids should be excited to start school. If you feel anxious or worried for your child, she will pick up on your insecurities. Even though it will be hard for mom and dad to let go, realize that this important milestone is a chance for new growth for everyone involved.

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Heather Hale is a fourth-generation Montanan and mom to three crazy boys.

Website: http://moderatelycrunchy.blogspot.com

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