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Summer: The ideal time to prepare for kindergarten success

Summertime is a great opportunity to help kids prepare for their first day of kindergarten. Today’s schools expect 5-year-olds to arrive with basic academic and social skills so they are prepared on day one to start learning to read, write and do basic math. 

The first day of kindergarten is an important time in both the child’s and family’s life. And for families for whose first child is starting school, the transition can be especially stressful. 

As Arizona’s early childhood agency, First Things First (FTF) has online resources to help parents and caregivers prepare their child for kindergarten on the FTF Kindergarten Readiness page found at FirstThingsFirst.org/resources/kindergarten-readiness

FTF offers the following summer tips to help parents and caregivers get their kids ready for success in kindergarten and beyond:

1. Reading: Read with your child at least 20 minutes per day. Try books that repeat words about familiar objects. Ask questions about the story like, “What do you think happens next?” 

2. Talking: Talk and sing with your child everywhere – at home, in the car, at the store. Make up stories or songs about your outings. 

3. Routines: Help your child get used to the structure of the school day by establishing regular routines for waking up and dressing, meal times, and bath and bed times. Do a test-run of the big day by practicing all the activities that will happen in the morning and at school. 

4. Early writing: Writing begins with scribbling. Give your child safe writing tools to play with like crayons, chalk, or markers and blank paper. Ask your child to tell you about their drawings. 

5. Healthy breakfast: Start every day with a healthy breakfast. It helps kids concentrate. 

6. Sleeping: Make sure your child gets 8-10 hours of sleep every night.

7. Staying healthy: Schedule a visit with your child’s doctor and dentist. Health problems make concentrating difficult. 

8. Sharing: Teach your child how to share and let them help you clean up so they get used to putting things back where they found them.

9. Hygiene: Teach your child how to use the bathroom by themselves, to wash their hands after going to the bathroom and before eating, to blow their nose and sneeze into their elbow.

10. Talk change: Start talking to your child about the change that is coming when they start school. Be positive, and give your child the opportunity to ask questions or express fears. Before the first day, talk with your child about what to expect during the school day and types of after-school activities they may be involved in. The more details kids know, the less anxious they will feel. 

If you don’t have kindergarteners this year, it’s never too early to start helping kids prepare. Children who have positive experiences from birth to age 5 are more likely to be prepared when they start kindergarten and do well in school. By turning everyday moments into learning moments, we can send our young kids to school with the skills and confidence that will help them succeed in kindergarten. 

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