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It’s Not Time…But It’s Time…

Listen, I don’t want to think about it. You don’t want to think about it. But, alas, it’s time to start thinking about it. If you’ve been in a store lately, you know exactly what I’m talking about — the dreaded back to school.

If you are sending your little one off to kindergarten, then I’m sure the stress and anxiety are real. So, let’s discuss some tips that may make those first few days a little easier.

Attend orientation or related events. Compared to preschools and daycares, elementary and primary schools are huge! And that may be scary for the littles. Attending kindergarten orientation or related events as a family can help children see their classrooms, meet their teacher and potentially their classmates. If they have some semblance of an idea where they are headed before the first day, it may make the first day of school a little smoother.

Avoid lengthy goodbyes. I know it’s difficult, and you cry all you want later, but drawing out goodbyes as kids get on the bus or walk into school will ultimately make it harder on children. Limit your goodbye to a hug and kiss and some words of encouragement. Keep the emphasis on the positive and the fun that’s to be had, so kids arrive at school in a good frame of mind. And then, once they are off for the day, feel free to have a good cry and treat yourself to a fancy coffee to make yourself feel better.

Make sure they know and understand what the end-of-the-day plan is. Whether that’s you or another family member picking them up from school or the bus stop, or if they are heading to after-school care — whatever the plan is, be sure to go over it with them so they are confident in what to do and where to go when the day is done.

You may also want to check out some Kindergarten Checklists to see where your child is in relation. Now, let me say this before I get to a list I found. Every child develops differently at different times. Just because your child isn’t ticking every box doesn’t mean they aren’t ready for kindergarten or will struggle. These are just some basics and a way for you to see where your kiddo is and what they may need to focus on this year.

Language skills
– Speak in complete sentences and be understood by others most of the time
– Use words to express needs and wants
– Understand two-step directions
– Make comparisons and describe relationships between objects like big/little, under/over, and first/last
– Recite the alphabet and identify most of the letters
– Recognize and try to write their own name
– Recognize when two words rhyme (like cat and bat)
– Start to connect letter sounds to letters (like the sound of the first letter in their name)
– Draw a picture to help express an idea

Math skills
– Count from 1 to 10 without skipping numbers
– Match a number to a group of five or fewer items
– Recognize and name basic shapes
– Understand more than and less than
– Arrange three objects in the right order
– Name or point to the colors in a box of eight crayons

Self-care skills
– Use the bathroom and wash up on their own
– Get dressed on their own (but may still need help with buttons, zippers, and shoelaces)
– Know and can say their first and last name and age

Social and emotional skills
– Separate from a parent or caregiver without getting overly upset
– Interact with other kids
– Pay attention for at least five minutes to a task an adult is leading, like listening to directions for an activity or discussing the day’s weather during circle time
– Use a pencil or crayon with some control
– Use scissors
– Copy basic shapes
– Make distinct marks that look like letters and write some actual letters, especially the ones in their name

Gross motor skills
– Run
– Jump with feet together
– Hop on one foot
– Climb stairs
– Bounce a ball and try to catch it

Since we do still have around four weeks before school starts, now is also the time to get back into nighttime routines with all the kids, regardless of whether they are headed to kindergarten or high school. Especially for the littles, helping them get used to a new schedule now will help save some frazzled nerves later and allow you some time to work out the ‘kinks’ of a new routine. For the older kids, you don’t want to wait until the last minute for them to figure out that 3:00 a.m. Fortnite and noon wake-ups are soon to be a thing of the past.

There is still plenty of summertime fun time left to be had, but it doesn’t hurt to start a little prep for the upcoming school year.