Veteran Randolph teacher Mary Jones has strong opinions about Kindergarten, calling it "the best part of school, the most important part of school." She explains that this first stage of formal schooling gives teachers the opportunity to intervene early to thwart a student's belief that he or she "can't." "The earlier you can move them to 'I can,' that's the key to getting them on the road to success," Jones says. So what can parents do to prepare their children for this important step in their educational careers? Here are some ideas.
Acquire Good Habits
- Set a regular bedtime and wake-up time for your child. Create this routine at least two weeks prior to the first day of school. Sleep is so important to your child’s growth and brain development.
- Set up a play date with a friend from school. The educational skills students learn in their early elementary years and their cognitive growth are deeply connected to their social and emotional growth. Unstructured playtime alone and with friends is as important as learning to recognize letters and numbers.
- Plan a visit to your child's school the week before school begins. Walk the halls and become familiar with the surroundings. New routines are difficult for children in the beginning, but should offer security once established.
Practice Personal Skills
Make sure your child knows how to:
- Tie his or her shoes.
- Put on and zip a jacket
- Unbutton and button pants
- Open lunch items like drinks and chips
Throughout his or her time at preschool or nursery school, and through their interactions with you, your child will be developing basic reading–readiness and number skills. You've no doubt been reading to your child and will continue to prepare them for more academic skills that they will need for the classroom.
Prepare for the Classroom
Some basic skills your child will need to be ready for Kindergarten are to:
- Recognize uppercase and lowercase letters
- Count from 1 to 20
- Hold a pencil and write first name
- Use scissors
- Exercise self-control: Share, wait for a turn, stand in a line, listen to a story
As you look forward to this next stage in your child's life, share your positive attitude about school and your child’s experience. This will foster independence and confidence. Starting school is the beginning of a great adventure! Supporting the school and its teachers and demonstrating that conspicuous confidence in front of your child is a great gift to give them as they head into the world.
Advice from Randolph's Head of Lower School Cindy Shaw: “The right program for your child is one where he or she will be happy. Randolph's Kindergarten is the starting point for an excellent education, providing a foundation for college and life. The foundations for strong writing skills, resilience, empathy, good social and emotional development are laid in our Kindergarten and built upon all the way through the Randolph journey.”