If you have questions or concerns about your child's growth or development, use this guide to talk with your child's caregiver, pediatrician, or a teacher at your child's school.
Kindergarten is a big transition for children. The following information should help you and your child get ready for this exciting time in your lives. For information about public and private kindergarten opportunities in Boston see the section on Early Education and Care at the end of this document. Look for the following milestones as your child gets ready to enter kindergarten:
- Plays cooperatively with other children most of the time
- Uses words suggested by an adult to express feelings, such as "I don't like it when you push me" or "that makes me mad!"
- Is able to help solve simple problems with adult support
- Follows 2–3 step directions such as, "Wash your hands, go get your lunch, and wait by the door."
- Shows hand–eye coordination by buttoning her pants or cutting around a large picture with scissors
- Recognizes some letters, particularly the letters in his own name
- Holds a pencil with her thumb and forefinger instead of using a whole hand grasp to draw or write
- Tells a story about a picture and asks an adult to write it down
- Can count 10 or more objects, such as the steps leading up to his home
- Asks questions about everything!
These activities can help ease the transition for you and your child into the kindergarten classroom.
- Spend time with peers: Ensure that your child has lots of opportunities to socialize with groups of children her own age to help her to practice sharing, taking turns, self control and more. If your child is not enrolled in a pre–school program, try joining a free playgroup or library story time, or plan regular visits with friends or neighbors with children of similar ages.
- Visit your child's new school together: This is a great opportunity to meet the principal and kindergarten teacher and tour the school.
- If you can, visit the school several times during the summer and let your child play in the playground to become familiar with the school before September.
- Create routines: Have a set bedtime and wake–up time, and stick to it. This helps children know what to expect and ensures that they get enough rest. Create a morning routine and practice getting ready for school a few times before school starts.
- Read books about going to school so he can start thinking about his own big day, but also continue to read other types of books with your child just for pleasure.
Encourage independence: Nurture independence by allowing your child to make certain choices, such as allowing him to choose his clothing. If he is not already doing it, teach him how to open his own drinks or food containers. Children may bring their own lunch to school, and they will have to open their lunch on their own. Also, if your child will be wearing shoes that require laces, teach him how to tie his own shoes.
Plan for the first day of school: If you can, take the morning off from work and take your child to school. If your child will ride the bus, be sure to put a nametag on her (or in her backpack) and include her first name, your phone number, and grade or classroom teacher name.
Dress your child in comfortable clothing: Have him wear elastic waistband pants (zippers, belts and buttons may be too much during the first few days). This way if he waits until the last minute to use the restroom, it will be easier for him. Also, if your child does not know how to tie his own shoes, have him wear Velcro or slip-on shoes.
Ten Steps to Get Ready!
- Create a routine over the summer. Give your child a bedtime (7:30 or 8:00 PM is great!) and stick to it.
- Have your child practice writing his first name. If he can do this, try his last name, or practice lower case letters.
- Use counting in your daily activities. Count how many steps it takes to get to the mailbox or the park. Count out fruit, placemats, napkins, and so forth.
- Take your child with you to the grocery store, post office, library, and other errands. Talk with her about what she's seeing, hearing and touching. It's all part of learning!
- Visit your local library and help your child get a free library card. Then use the card to visit the library each week and borrow a book. Visit www.bpl.org for a list of their 27 locations and hours of operation. Talk about the books you read. Ask questions like:
- > What was your favorite part of the story?
- > Which part did you like the least?
- > Half way through, ask your child what he thinks will happen at the end.
- Let your child practice her independence by allowing her to make limited choices: "Do you want an apple or a banana?" Encourage her to try new things.
- Set a limit to the amount of TV your child watches (1–2 hours daily). When possible, watch TV with him and talk about what you see.
- Prepare a "study spot" for your child in the kitchen or living room and supply it with crayons, paper, scissors and other kindergarten tools. Let your child draw there while you make dinner. Once school starts, this can become the time and place where she does her homework.
- Help your child know or be able to do the following before he enters kindergarten:
- > His name, address, and telephone number
- > Use the bathroom on her own and button and zip her clothes.
- > Share and play with other children. This will help him to adjust to his new kindergarten classroom.
- Read, Read, Read! (In English or any native language!)
Celebrate the Transition to Kindergarten
Countdown to Kindergarten offers a number of events throughout the city to help celebrate this important milestone. Learn more about these opportunities at www.countdowntokindergarten.org or call (617) 635-LEARN.