10 Tips from Your Kindergarten Teacher
My oldest has a late Fall birthday, so while she won’t be going to kindergarten this year, many of her friends are. My mom friends are a mixture of excited, anxious, and preparing for tears as their babies begin their academic careers. We are fortunate to not only have a Grandma who taught middle school for years (see her tips for your preteen’s first day of middle school), but my Mom just retired last May after teaching for over 30 years, the last two decades in kindergarten. So for all of Big M’s friends, and fellow parents of rising kindergartners everywhere, here are 10 things your teachers want you to know before your child’s first day at kindergarten!
1. Share Your Kindergarten Memories
We are all nervous about the unknown. Kids are always amazed that their parents were once in their shoes too. Read The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing. Use it to open up a discussion about going to school, and share your favorite memories of kindergarten and your first day of school with your child.
2. Special First Day of Kindergarten Outfit
We all feel more confident in clothes that make us feel good. So will your kindergartner. Let your child pick out their first day of school outfit (even 5 year olds have their own sense of style). Do it the night before to help your morning go more smoothly. But be prepared – they may change his/her mind again the next day.
3. Dress for Comfort, Safety
While you might have a special outfit to celebrate the first day back to school, on an ongoing basis, you want your child to be comfortable at school. Help them choose comfortable clothes that can be washed when they encounter glue and paint splatters, and won’t matter if they get cut while practicing with scissors. They should also wear tennis shoes. This is for their safety to prevent unnecessary accidents during gym and recess time.
4. Give a Family Photo
Take a look around your desk at work – you have photos of family. Why shouldn’t your kindergartner? If your child is anxious about missing you, send a small picture of your family with your child to school. Let their teacher know it is in their backpack, and she will work with your child on the best place to locate it. Maybe in their cubby or taped into their school supply box for them to view when they need a little comfort from home.
5. Check the Lunch Menu
Make it a habit, starting with the first day at kindergarten, to check the lunch menu with your child. If they don’t want what is being offered, send them to school with a lunchbox. Ask them to bring uneaten food back home, so you really know what is actually being eaten. Kids need full stomachs to remain actively engaged in learning.
6. Encourage Enthusiasm for Learning
Encourage your child to take pride in their learning and come home and share it with you. Set up a special place at home to display and/or store the work they bring home from school. Know that there will be glitter, wet glue, and sometimes even wet paint too.
Set it up BEFORE the first day to help build their excitement for learning before they even arrive at school!
7. And Prepare Them for Failure
This may be the first time your child experiences failure without you there to help them through it. Whether it’s having to compromise with other students, lose at a board game, or struggling through learning to read and add, allow them to fail, but encourage perseverance. Every failure is a learning opportunity — the best lessons are often taught through mistakes. Help them practice making better choices, praise their efforts, and don’t always let them win every game you play.
8. Go to Back to School Night
Whether it’s a meet the teacher event before school starts, or a parents’ information night a few weeks into the school year, block off the time and go! This is a great opportunity to meet fellow parents, network for carpools, and get to know your child’s teacher. If you need more time with your child’s teacher or to convey private information, know that your teacher’s door is always open – request in person or call to schedule a conference.
9. When in Doubt, Ask the Teacher First
At Back to School night, I always express to my parents how knowledgeable their children are about what is going on at home. And they LOVE sharing details at school. ‘Little pitchers have big ears’ and even bigger mouths! They also have vivid imaginations, and sometimes co-mingle fantasy and reality and confuse timelines.
I will always come to parents with any concerns about what is going on at home, and you as parents should do the same for your teacher. If your child shares something at home about school that raises a red flag, don’t hesitate to ask the teacher FIRST!
10. Remember All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten
It really is true – everything you need to know you do learn in kindergarten! The most basic lessons of life begin in kindergarten and will impact the rest of your child’s life. Developing social skills, making their first friends, learning independence, problem solving, and above all, enthusiasm for learning are all what matters most – and your child’s teacher is as passionate and experienced in helping your child learn those life lessons as she is teaching them to read.
What is your 5 year old’s biggest worry about starting kindergarten? What is your biggest hope for your child as they start their education? Want more back to school tips… Follow our Back to School board on Pinterest for more tips, tricks, fun activities and more!
Mary is a retired early elementary teacher. She has more than 30 years of experience teaching, spending the last 20 teaching kindergarten before retiring last May. She is also the mother of 3 grown children, and 5 grandchildren (soon to be 6!). Stay tuned for more tips, advice and activities to help your kindergartner succeed from Mary coming soon!
Love it? PIN THIS!