4 Helpful Tips for the Transition to Kindergarten

As the mom of a soon-to-be Kindergartener, I have two thoughts on my mind right now. One, how did the last five years fly by so quickly? And two, I need tips for the transition to Kindergarten! This is new territory for my family, and I want to make sure we are as prepared as we can be.

As a former teacher, I like to think I have a good handle on all things school-related. I’m super excited for my daughter to experience the classroom setting and have a successful year. But, I don’t know anything about Kindergarten. I know my daughter’s preschool experience prepared her for the years to come, but I can’t help but feel a little anxious to send my oldest kiddo off to Kindergarten. 

I decided to ask the moms in the Detroit Mom Moms of School-Aged Kids Community Group if they had any tips for the transition to Kindergarten. Who better to ask than moms who have walked in these shoes before? I’m so thankful for their tips, and I wanted to share with you what they told me.

So, here are four tips for the transition to Kindergarten, in no particular order:

Practice routines early.

The majority of the moms said to start practicing routines EARLY. Like, even a month early! You know your kids best, but if you think they’ll struggle with the shift to earlier school start times, it sounds like the earlier you start getting ready for this, the better.

It’s a good idea to also practice things at home that they’ll do at school on their own: getting shoes on, opening snack and lunch items, etc. You’ll see what they still need help with and can work on those skills before the big first day.

One other “routine” so to speak involves the school itself. If you can, take your kids before school starts so they can see/play on the playground, find the entrance, etc. This will lead to success with routines like lining up, going to recess, and more.

Advice from local moms:

“Start waking up progressively earlier each week.” –Autumn Jacobs

“Definitely start the earlier routine now, that way you can make it gradual.” –Molly Ann Nagelli

“I have been doing a back to school challenge (set up time, schedule, and routine as if really going to school) [and] if they accomplish by set time, they will get a reward (lollipop).” –Christine Iwashita-Meeks

“Take a few visits to the school playground and let your child explore early! It helps build confidence.” –Allison Cestari

“Just make sure your child can *independently* open… [the] majority of their things and then they can ask for help… Otherwise, they may be sitting there for a long time (and not eating) before a lunch aid or Para can come help them.” –Sarah Malak

Prep the night before.

Another great tip for Kindergarten readiness was a daily tip: get everything ready the night before. We already did this with preschool, so I definitely plan to keep up with it. The moms from the community group had some really insightful ideas, like having your kids make their own lunch, pick out their own clothes, and even prep for breakfast the next morning. Breakfast prep is one thing I haven’t been doing, but definitely will be starting!

Advice from local moms:

“…Make lunch the night before (also teach your kids how to make their own lunch. Game changer). Lay out outfit the night before. Shower at night.” –Danielle Siero

“Set out outfits (in the winter this is important with the snowsuits, gloves, and boots–nothing worse than scrambling for a missing glove in the morning), check and reset backpack… and even put bowls or plates out for breakfast. Every little bit helped us!” –Allison Cestari

Anticipate needs.

The after-school tiredness is real. It was so helpful to hear from local moms to keep in mind that your new Kindergartener is likely going to be very tired after their long day of learning and interacting with classmates.

An early, consistent bedtime may be beneficial to be sure they’re getting enough sleep. They will probably be pretty hungry after school too, so one mom recommended having a snack at pick-up. Such a smart idea!

Another helpful tip included having a designated area for school items and a routine for how items are handled. For example, backpacks can be hung on hooks, folders placed in a designated spot, and lunch boxes emptied and put on the counter for when they make their lunch that evening.

It’s also important to anticipate the needs of school staff, too. You can keep in touch with your child’s teacher and stay informed about school happenings via the PTA or other school families. By anticipating the needs of school events, you can better plan for other extracurricular activities.

Advice from local moms:

“…Getting them to bed at a decent time is the best medicine. Emotions are big too the first couple of weeks but they’ll get in a groove. (teacher here)… We put up hooks for backpacks to avoid the after school dump and go. They get home and go straight away to unload lunch box, put daily folder on counter, put water bottle in sink, and then hang up their backpack. Simple organization from the get go helps me out so much!” –Sabrina French

“Our neighbor suggested a fruit and veggie smoothie for after-school snacks (no spoiling dinner appetites!) and a little quiet/alone time… We communicated A LOT–with our child, their teacher, the PTA, other school families, bus stop parents, etc. I made sure we were always available for information and awareness.” –Allison Cestari

Don’t forget about yourself!

One final tip for the transition to Kindergarten: don’t forget about yourself! I am so excited for my daughter to go to Kindergarten, but as an introvert, I’m also feeling pretty overwhelmed thinking about all the new things she will experience so quickly. It’s exciting to be reaching this next stage of life with her. But, I also want to be realistic about things.

I’m trying to be mindful of what I say to her so that I’m not inadvertently telling her how to feel. Rather than asking her, “Are you excited for school to start?” I’ve been phrasing it as, “How do you feel about starting school?” This is a bit more open-ended.

Advice from local moms:

“Be careful not to project your nerves or overtalk it. I noticed I was hyping it up too much last year and I think I made him nervous!” –Sabrina French

The transition to Kindergarten is big, and exciting, and maybe even a little overwhelming. But with these tips, I hope you feel a little more at ease. I am looking forward to watching our daughter walk confidently into school and will be waiting with open arms to hear all about her first day. Happy new school year, mamas!

For back-to-school fun, check out Katie’s list of back-to-school books!


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