While some kindergarten-bound children feel anxious about the first day of school, many others can't wait to start. They've seen friends or siblings go off to school and return with fun art projects and a fresh group of friends. During the summer before they begin kindergarten, their feelings usually amplify, leaving parents wondering how exactly they should spend the last summer before school starts in order to prepare them.
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Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to make sure that you're both ready for this next step in your lives:
1. Familiarize yourself with the school
Many schools offer opportunities for parents and students to tour their facilities, so take advantage of them. Some even offer a sort of "kindergarten training" the week before classes begin. Besides checking out the classroom, don't forget to visit other areas your student will be using, such as the cafeteria, restrooms, playgrounds, offices, etc. When you're able to see where your child will be, you'll feel more comfortable leaving her there. And when your child can see where she'll spend her days, she'll also feel more excited and less apprehensive about that first day.
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2. Practice basic skills
A common fear among students—and parents—is that they simply aren't ready for school, no matter the grade. To combat these feelings, practice the skills your student will need now, from knowing the alphabet to being able to write his name to basic counting.
If you're feeling particularly ambitious, you can also check with your child's teacher to identify skills or concepts that will be focused on in the coming year. If you spend the summer establishing a basic understanding, you'll both enter the year with a positive attitude and open mind.
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3. Learn independence
Having your child start kindergarten can make you feel a little overprotective and overwhelmed. You'll both need to learn to operate independently. For you, this will mean letting go a bit and helping her reason through things on her own. For your child, it will mean figuring out how to navigate situations without the immediate aid of a parent. To begin, practice solving problems at home by allowing your child to take an active role in the discussion. Go over possible scenarios and discuss what appropriate reactions might be.
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4. Find joy in learning
While you'll both want to feel prepared for kindergarten itself, it's important to remember that it marks the beginning of a much larger academic milestone. Nurture your child's sense of wonder by making learning fun so he won't fear school. When you work together to find joy in the small steps of the academic process, you're fostering a lifelong love for learning. But remember that your student is still young—coming on too strong will have the opposite effect. But if you approach school with just the right amount of enthusiasm, you may encourage excitement that will carry your child through college and through life.
Heather Hamilton is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.