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Is Your Child Prepared for Kindergarten? 10 Non-Academic Ways to Get Ready For School

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Whether you have a child in a toddler program or one in pre-K, there are several ways you can help your child prepare for kindergarten. We have recently had two children go through three years of pre-school and felt neither one of them were fully prepared for elementary school. Here are some helpful tips to prepare your child now so they won't be playing catch-up once in their kindergarten classroom:

Zippers and Buttons: In kindergarten, kids need to learn how to zip/unzip and button/unbutton coats to enter school, go out for recess and to leave at the end of the day. Work with your child now, to help them master these skills. Also, on gym class days, teach them how to tie their shoes so they will be ready quickly.

Holding A Pencil Properly: Although your child may be learning how to draw or write in preschool, they may not be taught how to hold a pencil correctly. This will be another skill they will need to know during kindergarten so practice with a pencil grip that teaches the correct method for writing.

Cutting With Scissors: Practice cutting out shapes or draw a simple picture and have your child use scissors to cut on the lines.

Play With Play-Doh: Fine motor skills are something that is practiced a lot in kindergarten so help kids now to hone these skills. Even if you have a small toddler, it's never too early to work on this. Playing with play-doh is a great exercise for fine motor skills.

Play Groups: The more different personalities of kids you can expose your child to, the better. Besides their normal friends, try and take them to activities with kids they have never met. In kindergarten, they will meet all types of personalities. Teaching them to adapt to a new environment quickly, will help them integrate into kindergarten easily.

Car Lines/Bus Riders: If you currently drop off and pick up your child, kindergarten may be a new experience if they now have a car line or bus route to figure out. At our school, there is a car line where they are expected, even in kindergarten, to unbuckle, exit the car and then shut a car door if it's not automatic. Parents are not supposed to get out to help. As for buses, teaching your child how to get on and off safely and making sure they keep all their belonging together as to not leave items on the bus, is important to practice.

Lunch Containers: If your child is bringing their lunch from home, practice opening any containers they may have so it's easy for them in their new school. This includes any zippers on the lunch containers themselves.

Adding A Day Each Year: Our first two children only went two days a week to preschool. I felt kindergarten was a complete shock to both of them because they weren't used to five days a week. If you have the option, I recommend adding an additional day for their age. In other words, two days for 2-year-olds, three days for three-year-olds and four days for four-year-olds. We are trying this method with our third and feel this transition will be smoother for her.

Listening and Quiet Time: For toddlers who are used to running around and being loud, parts of the kindergarten day may be a shock to them. They will be learning a lot and will be expected to be seated at a desk quietly listening. Practicing down-time with your child will help. Activities could be: reading them a book, teaching them a board game or taking them to a museum where an instructor is giving a lesson.

Hand Raising and Being Called On: This concept might be new to your child as well. In pre-school, a lot of times it's more of a "hands on" environment or group effort for answering questions and working through projects. In kindergarten, the teacher will ask individuals to answer questions and participate on a one-on-one basis. Putting your child in situations where they will be called on to answer a question or will be the "center of attention," will help more timid children understand this new format and be more comfortable if called upon.

Kindergarten is a whole new experience: new kids, new environment, new teacher and a new school day. Helping kids in advance, will make the transition easier for them especially if you have a shy or introverted child.

Do you have any tips for a smooth transition from pre-school to elementary school? Please comment below and share your thoughts.