How to Prepare Your Child for Kindergarten

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Getting ready for kindergarten can seem daunting, and will have you faced with a variety of different feelings and emotions. It’s an important time for your child—a new stage of life as they grow and learn.

I’ve been through it once with my son, and I’m about to go through it again with my daughter. I understand!

I’m going to take you through some steps that will guide you on how to prepare your child for kindergarten.

Practice Practical Skills

Your child is expected to already possess some skills before heading into the classroom. You don’t want them to feel completely overwhelmed when they arrive or that they’re behind everyone else.

You can practice these things with your child before their big first day, which will prepare them for what’s to come. 

Name Writing

Your child should be able to recognize his or her name and should be able to write it independently. Practice with crayons, or letter magnets on the fridge.


Your little one should be able to identify letters of the alphabet in both upper-case and lower-case writing. Sing the ABC song while pointing at a poster, or do an alphabet puzzle together.


They should be able to effectively hold a pencil, with the tip being supported by the thumb and forefinger. 


They should be able to count to 10, write these numbers, and recognize them when written. Play the card game UNO to practice, or look for numbers when you’re out and about on street signs and doors.

Bathroom Needs

Your child should be able to manage their bathroom needs and should be out of diapers.


They should be able to play independently with friends for at least 10 consecutive minutes. Your little one should be able to separate from parents easily, without fear of mom/dad not returning. Try and practice leaving them at a friend’s house if they’re still quite attached to you.


Your child should be able to get dressed when told, clean up after themselves, and be able to follow directions. They should also be able to listen to stories without interrupting. 


Your child should be able to speak using complete sentences. They should be able to repeat their full name, address, phone number, and birthday.

The list may seem huge, but your child probably does most of these already. Don’t worry if you can’t tick off the complete list before their first day, but continue to practice these things with them at home. 

What Will They Learn?

The general goals for your child while at kindergarten are to build upon their reading skills, listening and communication skills, understanding basic concepts of math, and acquiring engaging interests in the world. 

The Art of Language 

Your child will learn to recognize all the letters of the alphabet, and will be able to write and read all of these in upper-case and lower-case forms. 

They will learn sounds that correspond to consonants and vowels and will use these to read words. Over time, your little one will be able to put the events of stories in order and retell a story in detail. 

They will learn to write simple sentences and will identify and use sight words. 

Communication Skills

Hopefully, your child will successfully act on instruction and will listen attentively. Something we’ve always dreamed of!

They will repeat spoken directions and show understanding of meaning. They will learn patience, raising a hand, or waiting to speak. 

Your little one will engage comfortably in dialogue with teachers and classmates and will successfully ask and answer questions. 

Your child will engage in problem-solving activities and be able to work as part of a team on projects set. 


Using manipulatives, your child will learn to add and subtract, and understand spatial relationships i.e., ahead, behind, top, bottom.

They will learn to tell time to the hour using a full face clock, and start to use graphs for gathering information and will compare quantities by estimating and measuring. 

Your child will learn their five and 10 time-tables and be able to count them out loud. 

They will successfully acknowledge the days of the week and the months of the year.

kindergarten classroom

Emotional Preparation

Speak to your child about kindergarten and all the new experiences they’re going to face.

Ask them for their views and encourage them to express their opinion to you. Filter through their hopes and fears regarding kindergarten and provide them with lots of emotional support

Just like Daddy goes to work every day at 9am or Grandma plays tennis on a Wednesday at 5pm, life is full of routines! Tell your child that kindergarten is a part of growing up and a new routine for them.

Provide them with positive experiences and stories that you might have about being in kindergarten, or that friends and family members may have. 

Let them know that kindergarten is something positive, that they will learn lots of new things and make lots of new friends. Make them feel excited about this new life adventure! 

Establish Routines at Home

Kindergarten will expose your child to lots of routines and a timetable that requires adherence. 

Lessons will last a certain duration, breaks will have a designated time, and kids have to make sure they finish their lunch at lunchtime because once that bell rings, it’s back to class for all.

Prepare your child for this, and get them used to routines that take place around the home. 


Encourage your child to help at mealtimes, whether it’s washing their hands beforehand or putting spoons around the table. Be sure to establish a mealtime routine and adhere to it. 

Routines are good for developing a sense of independence


Your child is going to need a good night’s sleep before setting off on their exhausting new adventures at kindergarten the next day. 

Ensure they have a set bedtime routine and stick to it.

Reading Routine 

It’s important to encourage your child to read. It builds their literacy and language skills and supports their conversational skills too. 

It is recommended that parents spend around 20 minutes reading with their child every day. Try and stick to this!

Common Stumbling Blocks

There are a few common issues that children face when taking their big step up to kindergarten. 

Dealing with a longer day can be a struggle because your child is not used to a full day of structured activity. They will be tired and maybe a little grouchy, so be prepared for this. Make sure they get plenty of rest each night.

Transitioning from one activity to the next can be exhausting, and this is another challenge that kids face. A typical day of kindergarten includes lots of these, so this is a big change in routine that may take some time getting used to. 

Your child will have to sit still and pay attention for much longer periods of time than they are currently used to. They will have to engage in subjects they may not necessarily enjoy, and this might cause some frustration for them. 

Final Tips

I know what you’re thinking, your little baby is still so small! How will they cope? Will the staff know how to consolidate them? Will they make friends?

These are just a few from a huge list of questions going through your head right now. Don’t panic! Kids are so much better at dealing with these things than we give them credit for.

Your child is about to embark on a huge milestone, and though it may seem overwhelming, it should also seem exciting. They’re going to gain self-confidence, self-reliance, and independence. 

Their skills and abilities are going to grow, and you’re going to be there to practice what they’ve learned at home and enhance these further. 

Maintain good communication with your child’s class teacher, so you can be made aware of any issues your little one is facing, and you can provide extra support back home. 

Be patient with your child; it may just take them a little bit of time to get used to all this change.

Howard is a co-founder of Smart Parent Advice. When he isn't spending time with his wife, Kristin, or his two children, he can often be found running around on the tennis court.