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Kindergarten, Here We Come!

As a teacher, one of the most common questions I get asked from friends and family is “What should my kid know before starting kindergarten?” I’ve been through the process myself, taught kindergarten, and have helped many students with this major transition. Here are some of the tips that will help you and your child have a smooth start to the school year. 

Emotions. Talk to your kids about going to school. Reassure them that it’s a safe place where they will meet many new friends and have a lot of fun. Talk about the feelings they are having and that it’s ok to be a little worried. A visit to the school playground might help ease some of the anxious feelings.

Routines. This one is tough to do over the summer but in the couple of weeks leading up to September, try to follow the school schedule (check out the school website). Practice waking up at a certain time, getting ready, nutrition breaks, outdoor time, etc.

Independence.  Not every child will have all these skills mastered but the more you practice at home, the more successful your child will feel. Practice washroom routines, putting on shoes/boots, dressing, eating, opening lunch containers, zippers, and putting on a backpack. Ensure that backpacks, lunch containers and shoes are easy for your child to handle.

Social skills. Play dates are a great way to practice social skills. Play games that involve turn-taking and waiting. Teach kids how to clean up and share toys (especially with their favourites) and encourage kids to ask questions or ask for help when needed.

Academics. Kindergarten teachers do not expect 3 or 4 year olds to read or write but practicing these skills is always helpful. Have kids practice holding pencils/crayons, writing some letters and numbers, or writing their first name. Read together (OFTEN!) and help your child to recognize numbers, letters, and even some small words.

Kindness. In my opinion, the most essential skill you can teach your child is to be kind! Empathy, helpfulness, friendliness, generosity, respect and being considerate to others are skills that need to be taught and practiced at home AND at school. When kids are kind to one another, the classroom becomes a safe place where students can learn from each other, make mistakes together, feel good about themselves, feel happy and want to go back to school each day.

If your child is struggling in September, connect with your child’s teachers. They have a wealth of experience to draw from and can help make the transition to school a successful one. Best of luck to all new kindergarten kids – and their parents!


Frank Emanuele is a proud father of two boys, a special education teacher, and a director of Dad Club London.


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