Parents and caregivers of preschoolers may notice time has a way of slowing down and then speeding up with the hustle of trying to make sure you capture each last moment: the last first day of preschool; the last time your child needed help tying their shoe; the last holiday celebrations you will attend at the childcare center; that last culminating event that is preschool graduation.
Preparing for Kindergarten
With all these “last” events, it’s never too early to begin thinking about a first: the transition from preschool to kindergarten in big kid school. There are a few steps you can take to ensure this process is smooth and not complete culture shock.
1. Identify the School Your Child Will Attend in the Fall
It is important for you to carefully determine what school in your neighborhood suits your child best. If you choose your local public school, ensure you know which school you are zoned for. Sometimes, a school right down the street may not be the school your neighborhood attends.
Right now, many magnet, charter and choice applications are now beginning to open. When choosing a school, some things to keep in mind are transportation, specific school policies and your child’s development.
2. Prepare Documents for Enrollment
Required documents include your child’s immunization records, birth certificate and ways to verify residency. Your school may require additional enrollment documents, so call and check. This is an ideal time to learn about your school’s “Ready for Kindergarten” event.
This typically happens in the spring and is a time when you can often officially enroll your child in kindergarten. If you cannot attend this event, you can take your documents directly to your school during the front office’s hours of operation.
3. Begin to Focus on Encouraging your Child’s Independence
Find creative ways for your child to learn your address and phone number; for example, by teaching the information to a familiar tune like the ABCs.
Work with your child on getting themselves dressed and on fine motor movements such as zipping and buttoning that can help prevent potty accidents (it’s also a good idea to revisit toilet training).
If you pack a lunch, help your child with their backpack and lunchbox.
You should also fine-tune transportation to and from school. If you walk, don’t wait until the first day of school to take that route with your child. If your child will take the bus, note the bus number and the cross street where the bus stop is located.
This is only a snapshot of what you can do to make this milestone not so intimidating. Remember to stick with what works for your family as you support your child on their way to kindergarten.
For more information or a complete list of recommended tips
to prepare your child for kindergarten, visit www.elchc.org or call us at (813) 515-2340.
*Presented by Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County | Originally published in January 2024 of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.