Summer is drawing to a close, which means it’s time to start thinking ahead to the upcoming school year. If your child starts kindergarten this fall, then you might be wondering how you can make the transition a relatively easy one for both you and your child. What’s a parent to do? Two Chicago-area experts share their tips on how parents can help get their child ready for that first day of kindergarten. Put your best foot forward by taking a look at these tips.
Susan Gedz, Kindergarten Teacher And Director Of District 203 K-4 Elementary Summer School
Prairie Elementary School
500 S. Charles St.
Naperville, IL 60540
(630) 420-6348

Susan Gedz is a kindergarten teacher who has received acclaim for her role as a teacher, including a nomination for a Golden Apple Award in 2014. Gedz suggested reading books focused on those first few days of kindergarten with your child. Which books should you pick up? In preparation of the big day, she recommended that families read “Countdown to Kindergarten” by Alison McGhee, and “Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten” by Joseph Slate.

Lauren Martinez, Lead Junior Kindergarten Teacher
Kids’ Work Chicago
2608 W. Addison St., Unit A
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 572-0308

Lauren Martinez is the Lead Junior Kindergarten Teacher at Kids’ Work Chicago and has been teaching for 11 years.  In a typical day, Martinez creates the lesson plans and themes for the week for the Junior Kindergarten classes by using input from the teachers. She also creates routines for the children to follow. Located in Chicago’s North Center neighborhood, Kids’ Work Chicago is a learning center for children between the ages of six weeks and five years of age. The company’s second facility is located at 2633 West Addison Street in Chicago.

Practice Academic Skills At Home

There are plenty of academic skills parents can work on at home with their kindergartner. “The best gift a parent can give to their child is to read to them. That is the greatest indicator for future reading success,” Gedz said. After working all day and attending activities, Gedz pointed out that many families may be exhausted for reading at bedtime. What’s a family to do? Gedz suggested using what she calls the book baskets, where parents purchase small baskets, fill them with books, and place the baskets throughout the home. “You pull out a book and you read together,” Gedz noted — and it doesn’t have to be at bedtime.

Visit The Classroom Before The First Day Of School

Before the bell rings on the first day of school, you should plan to take your child to any meet-and-greets organized through the school. According to Gedz, a kindergartner “should definitely have the opportunity to meet the teacher.” She also pointed out that students should tour the building and see the kindergarten classroom, as well as the gym, the library, and other rooms in the school. “In some circumstances, parents may need to be proactive and make sure it happens for their child,” Gedz pointed out.

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Ease Into A Routine For School Days

Martinez suggested starting the school days on the right foot by easing into a new routine for the family for bedtime and in the morning. “A month or so before school starts, start the routine,” she advised, adding that parents should make changes to the routine “gradually.” One night, start picking out the clothes for the next day, and the next night, consider helping your child pick out a book or two to read at bedtime. “Make the routine predictable for them. It’s a comfort for them, as there’s so much change happening,” Martinez said.

Know When To Discuss Kindergarten With Your Child

It’s one thing to talk to your child about the start of kindergarten, but Martinez cautioned against discussing the first day too soon in advance, noting that children can start to feel nervous. “[The child’s] behavior changes, so they might start to do baby talk because they’re nervous,” she pointed out, and recommended waiting until about a week or two before the first day of school to start talking about it. Martinez also suggested that parents should plan to attend any orientation meetings at school with their child, too.

Complete And Turn In Any Forms

Let’s face it: The start of the school year can be stressful. On top of purchasing new shoes and clothes for your child, you will also need to complete and turn in forms, including the birth certificate, to your child’s school before the first day of kindergarten. Instead of waiting until the last minute to turn everything in, Martinez advised getting the required forms completed in advance of the big day. She also recommended contacting the school office during summer vacation to see which forms are required. “It’s the last thing you need to worry about,” she said.

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Megan Horst-Hatch is a runner, reader, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She is also the president of Megan Writes, LLC. Her work can be found at