It’s that time of year when the days are full of sunshine, sticky fingers from cold treats, splash pads, camping trips, and later bedtimes. For a lot of us, it’s an extremely busy time of year and, because time goes by so much faster when you’re having fun, it goes by in a blur! Before we know it, it will be time to start thinking about getting ready for school again.
Maybe you’re a seasoned pro with school-aged children or maybe this will be your first year with Kindergarten drop-offs. Either way, we’ve got your back with some tips for getting ready for school!
Tips For Kindergarten Students
Heading to Kindergarten for the first time is such an exciting time, full of brand new discoveries and experiences! It can also be a little daunting – a lot changes when you start going to school!
Here are some tips and tricks to help set your new Kindergartener up for success:
1. Establish a Love of Books And Reading
If your child associates books with you and other loved ones, they are going to have a much more positive and curious relationship to reading. Learning to read can be really challenging, both academically and emotionally, so your child will be much more set up for success and resiliency if they come in already appreciating the process and wanting to learn.
2. Develop Fine Motor Skills And Pencil Grip
It can be a lot of work for little hands to suddenly have to hold pencils and write! Writer’s cramp develops a lot faster when those muscles have never worked before – which also makes letter and number formation, as well as learning to tie shoes or zip zippers, a much more frustrating experience for everyone involved.
To develop fine motor skills, you can:
- Play with play dough and puddy
- Use plastic tweezers to grab toys or cotton balls and move them around
- Play with sponges in water
- Colour and write with pencils, crayons, or markers
To develop pencil grip, have your child take a pencil and pinch it near the point. Then, flip the pencil back so the length of the pencil now leans on their hand. Practice this until they can consistently demonstrate proper pencil grip.
3. Build Vocabulary And Increase Language Acquisition
This one’s easy, just talk to your child as much as possible! Involve them in conversations using the proper terms for objects and experiences, name everything in your environment, and expose them to language. The more they hear, the more they will eventually be able to read and speak. If they have never heard some sounds or sophisticated language, reading those same words will be extremely tricky.
4. Learn Letter Sounds And Their Name
Don’t just focus on the names of letters and the alphabet song, make sure your child is beginning to understand that letters are really symbols for sounds. Focus on helping them learn the sounds. The best place to start? Their name! This will make their learning more meaningful for them and, as a bonus, they’ll be able to spell and recognize their names when they get to school! Once they’ve mastered their own name, move on to family members’ and pets’ names to help them make even more sound-meaning connections.
Tips for Grade-Level Students
Now, you may have done this multiple times already, but going back to school can still be a tricky transition from the glorious freedom of summer.
Here are some ideas to help your child be as ready as possible for their new adventures and challenges this school year:
1. Keep Reading!
Summer reading loss is a very real issue for both students and teachers. The summer slide can make returning in the fall much more daunting for your child if they have regressed or anticipate a struggle with reading. Listen to audiobooks in the car, read before bedtime, or as a routine part of your day like after a snack. Making reading enjoyable and a routine will set everyone up for success. Plus, the best way to get better at reading is to… well, read! So keep at it!
2. Use Environmental Print
Make a game out of reading signs, logos, wrappers, names on buildings or cars – if it’s formed out of letters, read it! This will help your child continue to develop phonological awareness and an ability to read for meaning, while also increasing their worldly knowledge.
3. Build Vocabulary And Increase Language Acquisition
Just like for our kindergarteners, making an effort to talk to your child using proper names for things and sophisticated language will help them develop those same abilities and make more meaning in their world. This will translate to what they are able to write, read, and speak.
4. Maintain a Positive Attitude About School
Whatever your attitudes about school, learning, and reading are, your child is likely to mirror them, so keep it positive! Be excited, talk about their teachers often so they are familiar with their name(s), visit the school playground, and talk about how much fun it’s going to be when they go to school.
5. Maintain Social Connections
Even as an adult it can be stressful to go somewhere new and not know anyone or have to awkwardly make small talk with someone you don’t see very often. It can be just as stressful when you’re a child. If it’s possible, try to make sure your child maintains friendships with playdates throughout the summer. It makes returning to school so much easier if you have friends to look forward to seeing!
Tips for Everyone
Transitions can be rough for everyone – even grown-ups!
As the first day of school gets closer, start getting your routines similar to the ones you’ll need on school days, if you can. Start getting up at the same time you’ll need to be up at for school, have your breakfast, and maybe even practice getting out of the door on time. Set up that morning routine so it’s not a shock to everyone’s system on that first day and you’ll be set up for success.
Summer is so much fun but fun can be exhausting! Especially with later bedtimes, time in the sun, and traveling all involved. Get back to those school night bedtimes, and maybe even a bit earlier, to make sure everyone is rested and ready to learn when they get back.
Make sure to enjoy your summer! An added bonus? Play is hugely beneficial to managing stress and anxiety, improving imagination and creativity, increasing energy, staying healthy, and developing social skills – all of which we will all need when we head back to school.