With another school year starting I have been worried about making sure that my kids are ready. Each year my children have been blessed with incredible teachers and school experiences, and I am so grateful. This year (next week) my little Elle will be starting Kindergarten. With my other kids off to school this week, I have time to focus on Elle to make sure that she is ready to start school. Luckily for all of us, my amazing friend Vanessa is a kindergarten teacher and will be teaching my Elle. I asked her to write a post about preparing for kindergarten. Here is what Vanessa has to say.

We’ve all seen the overwhelming checklists of what your child should know before coming to kindergarten and everyone has an opinion about it. Politics aside, numerous factors have encouraged kindergarten to become the new first grade. The reality is that children have many different experiences and opportunities before kindergarten that contribute to their level of readiness. There are many factors and you as parents play a big role in not only your child’s readiness but also your own readiness. Yes, parents need to prepare themselves for their child going to kindergarten. Now, I don’t have all of the answers, but I can sure tell you what is helpful for your child, your child’s teacher and the overall function of the classroom.

1. Social skills are key!

Encourage your children to truly listen to others, set an expectation of not interrupting others, and practice taking turns.

2. Independence.

Encouraging independence with every day self-help tasks such as zipping, buttoning, and tying, builds confidence and saves time leaving the house, getting ready for recess and preparing to head home at the end of the school day.

3. Train children to clean up after themselves.

Let’s face it, as a parent sometimes just picking up after your children is easier than harassing them to do it themselves. In the most endearing way possible, we refer to our sweet toddler as “Hurricane James” and based off of what our house looks like on any given day, we give James a category score. In fact, today was a category 3 storm. But learning to take responsibility for things, including cleaning them up is an important skill to have.

4. Teach children to know how and when to say sorry.

When you teach your child to know how to say sorry, this promotes empathy, which can change a home, a classroom, and even an entire school.

5. Help your children to understand that they can always learn something.

Some parents worry about their children being bored in kindergarten if they have already learned to read. I promise you, there is always something to learn!

6. Help your child become familiar with numbers and letters.

Being familiar with numbers and letters will build their excitement and set them off on a successful foot.

7. Let your child know it’s ok to make mistakes.

Knowing that it is ok to make mistakes will help all parties involved. Growth comes from struggle. It is ok to not be right or to not have the right answer, and it’s ok to have a different answer.

8. Encourage your child to be inclusive.

The best way to start this is to avoid gossiping or speaking negatively about others around your children.

9. A lot of sleep and a great breakfast each morning will go a long way.

Keeping a regular bedtime routine and eating a good and healthy breakfast every day sets your kids up to succeed for the rest of the day.

One of my best friends, a fellow kindergarten teacher and mentor puts it perfectly; “The best parenting is to work yourself out of a job.” That is exactly the goal when sending your children to school. You want them to learn and own their independence and responsibilities.

If you just keep a few of these simple rules in mind, you and your kids will be off to a great start. Thanks Vanessa!