Starting kindergarten is a big milestone in a child’s life! Make a plan early to get ready for school, because transitioning to kindergarten takes time and preparation. Here are some ways you can help your child get ready for school this summer:
Get Enough Sleep
In the land of the midnight sun, it can be hard to get children to bed in the summer. But sleep is a critical part of health and impacts a child’s ability to focus in school. Research shows that children who do not get enough sleep are at higher risk for ADHD and obesity, and a sleep-deprived brain tends to hang on more to negative emotions than good ones. Without enough sleep, it can also be hard to get up early enough to be on time for school.
Begin enforcing a bedtime several weeks before school starts. Use this chart to determine how much sleep your child should get each night. Then set a bedtime depending on how early you need to get up in the morning. For example, a 5-year-old who needs to get up at 6:30 am should be asleep at least by 8:30 pm to get the recommended 10 hours.
A routine is a pattern of actions that you follow regularly. Children do best when routines are predictable and consistent, letting children know what to expect. A bedtime routine can make it easier for children to get to bed on time. A simple routine can be:
- Brush teeth
Start the routine an hour before children should be asleep, and follow the routine every night. Pretty soon, going through the routine will become more automatic.
You can also make mornings easier by getting in the routine of packing lunches, setting out clothes for the next day, and putting backpacks, coats, and shoes by the door the night before. Be sure to make time for breakfast part of your morning routine. “Rehearse” your routine several weeks before school starts to smooth out any bumps prior to the first day of school.
The State of Alaska requires children in school or child care to have certain immunizations. Unless you have a religious or medical exemption, your child may not be allowed to start school on time without having all the correct immunizations. That delay can cost your child precious learning time. Talk to your child’s doctor or the school nurse to find out whether your child has received all the required immunizations. They may also be able to give you information about low-cost or free immunization clinics in your community.
Practice Independence Skills
Take time to teach your child important skills that he or she will need to be independent in the classroom, and give your child plenty of opportunities to practice those skills. This includes:
- zipping a coat
- buttoning pants
- hanging up a backpack
- opening all of the items in a lunchbox
- taking care of his or her own toileting needs
Use Playtime to Build Social Skills
Playing games is a great way to help your child build social skills. Use just about any board game or card game to help your child learn how to take turns. Build something together with your child to help him develop teamwork and collaboration skills. Play “Simon Says” or “Follow the Leader” to help your child learn how to listen to and follow directions. Play charades using emotions, and talk about emotions with your child to help her learn how to effectively express her feelings. And finally, try role playing situations your child might encounter in school and talk about how to handle those situations.