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Keys to Kindergarten

warrengoldswain for Veer

When Mitchell Tea of Eden Prairie, MN, came home from his first day of kindergarten two years ago, his mom was excited to hear about his experience. But she was disheartened when the first thing Mitchell said was, "How do I make friends?"

"It never occurred to me that he might not know what to do," says Amy Rea. "I should have told him to say something like 'Does anyone here like Pokemon?' Basic social skills  -- like how to start a conversation and ask people questions  -- were the things that really worried him."

Many parents, say experts, simply don't know what's needed most to prepare their kids  -- socially or academically  -- for kindergarten. That can be frustrating for moms and dads, kids, and teachers alike.

One thing to keep in mind: Kindergarten isn't what you remember from your own school days. Many of today's students are starting to learn how to write sentences, add and subtract, and work together on problem solving. It's not too soon, say teachers, to begin to lay the groundwork for preparing your child for kindergarten in the fall. And they have some surprising  -- and fun  -- advice for doing that. Here's what you need to know:

Diane Benson Harrington, the mother of two, is the managing editor of Freelance Success, a newsletter and website ( for freelance writers.

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