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Starting school is typically a fun and exciting time in any child’s life. Kindergarten is often the first experience kids will have with classrooms and regulated schedules. The transition to regimented school days can be rough on kids who are not well prepared for changes they may face. Here, local teacher Tracy Rivas shares some tips on how to ease that transition and set incoming Kinders up for success.

Tracy Rivas
San Jose Unified School District
855 Lenzen Ave.
San Jose, CA 95126
(408) 535-6000

Tracy Rivas found her calling early in life, having decided she wanted to teach Kindergarten when she was attending Kindergarten herself. Currently teaching Kindergarten with the San Jose Unified School District, Rivas has 16 years’ experience teaching, 12 of which in Kindergarten. Rivas is passionate about early childhood education and setting a solid foundation for young students’ education. Here she offers advice on how a parent can best help a child get ready to start Kindergarten.

Tip 1: Emotional Readiness

Rivas says the number one factor in determining if a child has success in transitioning to Kindergarten is emotional readiness. Kids tend to do much better if they are able to be confident in a schooling environment. In order to help kids avoid tears or clinging to parents in the early days, Rivas recommends taking steps over the summer to get children excited about attending school. Try reading lots of books about going to school or starting kindergarten, and make sure to have plenty of conversation about what school will be like.

Tip 2: Set A Routine

A second way to help kids prepare for Kindergarten is having an established routine at home. Adjust summer schedules to have regular mealtimes, waking up times and betimes. Rivas says it is best to try and have the daily home routine parallel the expected school routine.  This will allow children to arrive at school with their internal body clocks already adjusted to a school day schedule, and allow for a more seamless transition.

Tip 3: Attention Span

The third way parents can assist their children in preparing for Kindergarten is by working on increasing attention spans. Oftentimes young children will find it difficult at the beginning of the year to sit still for stories and instruction. Rivas suggests parents spend plenty of time reading to their children daily, and for increasing amounts of time. Children generally do well if they are able to sit still and listen to a story for a period of ten minutes.

Tip 4: Letter And Number Recognition

As children will spend much of the time in Kindergarten learning letters and numbers, Rivas suggests early exposure will increase kids’ familiarity and comfortability with the concepts they will be learning. Parents can help their children by working on letter and sound recognition, as well as number recognition and basic counting skills. Again, daily reading with children is one of the best ways to grow early literacy skills and aid a child’s knowledge of letters and phonics.

Tip 5: Early Writing Skills

Lastly, one of the ways a parent can help a child prepare for Kindergarten is by helping develop some early writing skills. While Kinder students aren’t writing paragraphs on the first day of class, Rivas says a basic idea of the idea of writing is a good start. Even better if a child can competently write their first name. Children can spend some time during the summer tracing and copying letter in order to familiarize themselves with early writing skills.

Joanna Metheny is a freelance writer covering all things South Bay. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.