7 tips to get your child ready for kindergarten
By Carolyn Koesters, United Way of Southwest Virginia
Even if your child can do numerous items a kindergarten readiness checklist, you might still encounter stress navigating the transition. Here are some tips that might help you and your child with kindergarten readiness:
- Before kindergarten, enroll your child in a high-quality childcare center.
Research shows that quality child care and early learning programs positively impact children’s development and lead to more successful transitions to kindergarten.
- Visit your local library.
Libraries across the region can connect you with age-appropriate resources, activities, and reading materials. Lisa Tyson, youth services director for Tazewell County Public Library said, “Interaction is so crucial for early learning, and the materials we provide at the library help development in many ways.” You can check out books, games, and activities to help make the move out of summer fun!
- Schedule a wellness checkup.
Make sure your child is well-fed, well-rested, and healthy by scheduling a checkup with a pediatrician before he or she starts school.
- Attend kindergarten transition activities.
If the school offers activities to help with the transition, by all means, attend! When your child can greet his or her teacher ahead of time, perhaps climb on a school bus before the big day, or even find where their cubby is, it could be just what you and your child need to feel ready.
- Stay involved.
Get to know the teachers, staff, and administrators who are there to support you and can help make your child’s transition to kindergarten even better.
- Read with your child 20 minutes every day.
Begin reading with your child for 20 minutes a day, starting at birth! This one act can make a huge difference and assist your child on the path to success by developing vocabulary for fluency and comprehension.
- Make attendance a priority.
Jackie Wilson, the attendance officer for Smyth County Schools, said poor attendance from preschool to first grade is an indicator that students may not be able to read at grade level by the end of third grade. Attendance habits form early, so try to make it to kindergarten every day!
Whether your child is making the leap to kindergarten from preschool, daycare, or staying at home with a caregiver for the first five years of life, Laura Jackson, a kindergarten teacher at Spiller Elementary in Wytheville, Virginia, says first day jitters are normal for everyone – especially the parents. “In my experience, it is almost always the parents that are more anxious about starting school than the children. Parents, put on your best smile and brave face, because remember – kids will feed off your energy. Give kisses and hugs and send them off for a great day.”
As your child enters kindergarten, think about all the support that surrounds your little learner, and think about all the support that surrounds you. You are not actually doing this on your own. Educators will welcome you to their classrooms and parents of other children will experience the transition with you, but remember that communities also play an essential role in school readiness. Community members, businesses, support organizations, and United Way of Southwest Virginia are fighting to give your child a strong start that leads to success in school and in life.
About United Way’s education initiatives
United Way of Southwest Virginia is fighting for the education of the region by making sure children and youth can start school ready to succeed, become proficient readers at a young age, stay on track in middle school, earn their high school diploma, and pursue a higher education or career. To learn more, visit unitedwayswva.org/education.
About United Way of Southwest Virginia
United Way of Southwest Virginia fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Southwest Virginia because they are the building blocks for a good quality of life. Through an initiative-based cradle-to-career approach, United Way of Southwest Virginia is creating sustainable solutions to address the challenges facing tomorrow’s workforce. United Way convenes cross-sector partners to make an impact on the most complex problems in our region. Through collaboration with government, business, nonprofit and individuals, United Way innovates for positive, lasting social change. With a footprint that covers nearly 15% of the state of Virginia, United Way of Southwest Virginia programs and initiatives serve the counties of Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Giles, Grayson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise, and Wythe, and the cities of Bristol, Galax, and Norton. For more information about United Way of Southwest Virginia, visit unitedwayswva.org.