From Preschool to Kindergarten

The transition from daycare or preschool to kindergarten is typically the start of formal, daily education for many children. This transition can feel significant, and because of that, it can sometimes feel overwhelming for parents and children alike. So, what can parents do to make the transition from preschool to kindergarten go as smoothly as possible?

A Parent’s Role

“There are a lot of things that parents naturally do that get their children ready for kindergarten,” says Emilie Parry, owner and director of Creative Tots Mason. “Things like reading to them, fostering friendships and allowing them to explore new experiences, and explaining to them what they are seeing or doing for the first time.”

Cincinnati mom Jennifer Bross’ twins, Violet and Logan, have been in preschool since they were both 1 year old. Along with a quality preschool, Bross credits their success in kindergarten to all the reading they did at home. “They’ve developed such beautiful little imaginations and great vocabularies,” Bross says.

Kindergarten teachers Theresa Bell and Megan Kelly, of Children’s Meeting House Montessori School in Loveland, say that the best thing parents can do to prepare their child for preschool and kindergarten — whether in a Montessori environment or not — is to help foster their independence.

“Teach and encourage children to dress themselves, put on their own shoes and coats, and get their own snacks,” Bell and Kelly say. “Also, trust them to complete simple tasks on their own. These are great practical life skills that will help them feel prepared and comfortable within the classroom.”

Parry agrees. “It is important that a preschooler is able to walk into a classroom and do things independently and think like a leader,” she says. “Parents can encourage them to try new things and ask questions when they don’t understand something or if they are really interested in something.”

Kindergarten Readiness

There is no magic ball that will let you know when your preschooler is ready for kindergarten. But there are some signs that might indicate your child is ready for that next step. The Mayo Clinic lists the following developmental milestones as pivotal in deciding whether a child is ready for kindergarten success. These milestones include demonstrating a curiosity or interest in learning new things, taking turns and cooperating with peers, and following instructions. Fortunately, a quality preschool will help your child meet these important milestones.

“We work a lot on helping the students to be independently ready for the kindergarten classroom,” Parry says. “We encourage them to be leaders through the choices they make, following instructions the first time, taking care of our environment and respecting others and ourselves. We help to lay the foundation for reading and writing as well as fundamental math concepts. The students are little sponges and love learning new things that interest them.”

The Importance of Preschool

And if a child isn’t quite the age for kindergarten? Preschools can help with that, too.

“The beauty of a Montessori classroom is that we can meet each child where they are,” Bell and Kelly say. “If the child is soaring academically but is too young to be in kindergarten, we get to give them lessons on the same things the kindergarten children are working on. We can take any child wherever they are able to go academically since we educate to the individual needs of each child.”

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