GREENWOOD, Ind — While many parents welcome back-to-school preparations for their children, you might be feeling a bit of anxiety if this is your child’s first day of school ever. WTHR Education Expert Jennifer Brinker joined 13News' Jalea Brooks to share advice on how to use these last few weeks of summer vacation to make sure your kindergartener is ready for the school environment.
Jalea Brooks: What kinds of things should parents be doing?
Mrs. Brinker: Well, there are really three categories of readiness: academic readiness, routine readiness, and social and emotional readiness. I will start with academics. It is kind of last minute to make sure that your student can do these things, but it’s never too late to start. Work with your child to make sure they recognize their letters, can recognize or write their names, know how to hold a pencil. These types of tasks are very helpful to review with your child. Also, I’ve said this over and over again: read, read and read some more with your child. Practice having them sit and listen to you, ask comprehension questions as you go and start to get them into the next tip, which is routine readiness.
Jalea Brooks: So when you say routine readiness, what all does that include?
Mrs. Brinker: I would say this is the big one because it includes a lot of aspects that kindergarten teachers I’ve spoken to have indicated kids need the most as they begin school. Practicing those school day routines will be greatly beneficial. Lunch is a big one. Make sure that your child can open all of the items you pack in their lunch each day. Make sure they know what gets thrown away in the lunchroom and what to bring home. Restrooms are important to discuss. Some kids might not have much experience with public restrooms, so review things like latching the stalls, make sure they can button and unbutton clothing items on their own, talk about being efficient in the restroom, washing hands properly, things like that. As you read those books to them, make sure you are talking about how to sit and listen to a book and raise your hand with questions. Talk with them about what expectations are when lining up in the classroom. The more they can hear about expectations that will be in their classrooms ahead of time, the better.
Jalea Brooks: OK. The last one you mentioned was social and emotional readiness. What tips do you have there?
Mrs. Brinker: This is the part that probably makes parents the most concerned. Talk with your child about social appropriateness. Kids often start school having troubles knowing what to share and at what volume. They can always use practice taking turns and giving others personal space. More importantly, parents worry about kids being nervous or crying on those first days. I would make sure you are visiting the school at any back-to-school nights that you can. If able, you can go play on the playground to familiarize your child with the school property and give some positive feelings about the school. Along with being positive, make sure your conversations about school are positive. If your child hears you tell others how nervous you are for them to go to school, they will be more nervous. If you are super concerned that they will be emotional about being away from you, I would suggest getting a picture of you and your child or the family and putting it somewhere that they can get to easily — maybe in their folder or even on a lanyard that they can look at throughout the day. If all of this doesn’t seem like it will make a difference, please keep in mind that kindergarten teachers are pros at getting the kids’ attention redirected, and I’m sure they will have them calmed down and smiling in no time!
Jalea Brooks: Any final advice?
Mrs. Brinker: Start getting those bedtime routines in place now as it can take awhile for sleep routines to adjust, and get excited because you are about to see your child’s skills grow in leaps and bounds!