Help your child prepare for the transition to kindergarten
How ready is my child for school? That’s a question many families ask. Your child already has many skills.
- is curious and full of potential
- communicates with gestures, words and/or sounds
- is developing preferences
- knows the difference between him or herself and others, between family and strangers
- understands and can express spatial relationships—up from down, in from out, front from back
- may speak and have a large vocabulary of words in your first language
Your child will build on these skills during the early years of school. There are activities you can do with your child now to help prepare for kindergarten. Here are some ideas:
Create and write together. Provide your child with paper, pens, paints and materials to draw or write something.
Look at grocery flyers together. Talk about what your child points to and looks at. Notice and name the letters and numbers in the flyers that are near these items. Play a guessing game with the pictures – for example, "I am seeing a toy that you play with in the sand and it starts like 'b'".
Read aloud with your child every day. Your reading time doesn't have to be long—5 to 10 minutes each day is great. Make reading a regular part of your day.
Talk with your child about things you see. Try to spend time each day talking with and listening to your child. Conversations in your first language or English build strong oral communication skills.
Play bingo and dominoes.
Play "store." Put price tags on toys (under 20 cents) and let your child use nickels and dimes to pay for them. Then switch places—let your child be the shopkeeper.
Go for a walk in the neighbourhood. Look for numbers that are in the environment and listen to what your child is noticing. Follow their interests and curiosities as you talk about numbers, shapes, colours and everything that you see along the way.
Let your child help you follow a recipe to cook something. Measuring is math; cooking or baking is chemistry.
Measure the rain. Use a plastic jar with straight sides and a flat bottom and a marker. On the outside, mark "half full" and "full." Keep track of the amount of rainfall.
Give your child a magnifying glass to inspect things up close—bugs, leaves, fabrics or anything your child is interested in.
Let your child become a bathtub scientist. Give your child different objects—together, predict which will float and which will sink; then test the predictions.
You may choose to use books or videos to prepare your child for school.
Help your child prepare for the transition to Kindergarten
We asked kindergarten students what they needed to know when they came to school— here's what they said:
- how to tidy up
- how to share
- how to be nice to others
- how to listen
Dress for (kindergarten) success
- In the course of an average kindergarten day, your child will jump, run, walk, bounce, stretch, crouch, bend and sit in a chair or on the floor. Choose clothes and footwear that will be comfortable during all of these activities.
- Choose clothes, jackets, shoes and boots that are easy to put on, take off and fasten.
- Kindergarten children learn best when they explore, discover and experiment—in other words, get messy. Choose clothes that are durable and easy to clean.
- Outdoor play is an essential part of the kindergarten program. Prepare outdoor clothing for all types of weather.
More helpful hints
- Speak positively to your child and others about starting school.
- If possible, offer your child time to explore and design with crayons, markers, play dough or clay.
- Encourage and support your child with self-care skills such as fastening zippers and buttons, dressing themselves (educators will be there to help out when school starts).
- Visit and play in the school yard and playgrounds.
- Encourage and practise washroom routines like flushing, dressing and washing hands. Remember that you and your child will make great progress with toilet learning between now and the start of Kindergarten!
- Invite your child to select and help prepare snacks based on foods that they like to eat.
- Encourage them to practise opening and closing, and eating from the food containers that they will using throughout the school day.
- Encourage your child to listen and notice the signs of their body for when they are hungry and thirsty.
- Children will be playing outdoors every day in all seasons so prepare for a year of all kinds of weather clothing!