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Helping your child get ready for Kindergarten

Starting kindergarten is an exciting milestone for a child – and a child's parents! The first day at school can be somewhat bittersweet for parents. On one hand, it's great to see your baby growing up, but on the other hand – your baby is growing up so fast!

Whether you are feeling ready for it or not, there are things you can do to help your child be ready for the first day in kindergarten. Here are some tips from ManitobaParentZone.

  • Read to your child every day, whether it is in English or French, or in your first language.
  • Get your child excited about reading by visiting the library – it's fun, and free! Libraries are family-friendly spaces, and you can check their websites or call to find out about upcoming events for kids. Another great thing about the library is that you can let your child pick the books you take out.
  • Help your child learn to follow directions. One fun way to do this is to let him or her help you cook dinner. Talk to your child about the steps you are taking while you cook, and give directions like: “First, we mix the rice and water in a pot. Next, we put the lid on.”
  • Encourage your child to be creative. This can mean playing dress-up, painting or colouring, or playing make believe. Some of the best and most fun craft materials are recycled items, like egg cartons and pictures from magazines.
  • Preschool age playgroups are a great way for your child to meet and interact with other kids. This helps your child learn to get along with other kids, and how to share... plus, it's fun!
  • Help your child learn about taking turns, including why it's important, even if it's not fun. You can do this while you are waiting in line at the grocery store, or for a bus. Board games are also a great way to help your child learn about taking turns and following rules! You can often find them at garage sales and thrift stores – just check to make sure there are no missing pieces.
  • Encourage your child to be curious about the world. This can mean playing I-Spy, noticing the colours of the fall leaves, or checking out bugs crawling along the sidewalk.
  • Help your child get interested in numbers. You can count things that you notice as you go about your day (like how many people on the bus are wearing hats) or show your child numbers that you see, like the numbers on buildings or things around your home, like the microwave.
  • Talk about the positive things you remember about school. Maybe it was a friendly teacher, or having fun on the playground, but share your good memories with your child. This will help your child think of school as a fun and friendly place.
  • Before school starts, help your child get familiar with the school. Go for walks to play on the school's playground, visit the school itself, and talk about how your child will get to school.
  • Get your child into a morning routine before school starts. At least a week before, help your child get to bed early, and start getting him or her up earlier. You can talk about what mornings will look like when school starts. For instance, will your child get on a school bus? (This can be very exciting!) Talking about what will happen can help your child feel good about starting school.
  • Listening and talking are important skills for school. Ask your child about his or her day, and when she tells you about it, make sure you are paying attention. You can do this by nodding or asking questions, and showing excitement when your child is happy. You can help your child learn to take turns when talking by showing him or her to wait when someone else is speaking, and not interrupt. This can be hard for little kids, so make sure to show your child how pleased you are if he or she does wait!

Looking for more information about getting your child ready for school? Here are more links with great tips to help you prepare your child for kindergarten:

Healthy Child Manitoba: Getting Ready for School: A Parent's Guide – Whether your little one is starting school this fall, or further down the road, this guide from Healthy Child Manitoba is full of helpful tips to get you started.

Durham Region Health Department: 1, 2, 3 Get Set for Kindergarten – This wonderful handout has information on almost anything a parent could wonder before their child starts school. What skills does your child need? What if my child has a vision problem? How much sleep does my kindergarten child need? The answer to these questions and more can be found here.