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Prepping for kindergarten

By Betsy Flagler
John Rosemond
Betsy Flagler, who lives in Davidson, writes the nationally syndicated Parent to Parent column.

If you’re anxious about whether your child is prepared to start kindergarten this fall, don’t pass along your jitters. Kids need encouragement, not worries.

Skip last-minute ABC drilling. Instead, have fun reading together each day, shopping for school supplies and going on family outings to close the summer.

With family and friends, work on coaching your child to respect what adults say; to follow two-step directions; to convey feelings with words, not by hitting; and to take turns. In other words, don’t leave everything from social skills to counting up to your child’s teachers.

“Your child’s ability to calm herself, understand emotions and communicate feelings are skills that, alongside reading and math, are needed to succeed in school,” says M.L. Nichols, author of “The Parent Backpack for Kindergarten Through Grade 5” (Ten Speed Press, 2013).

Nichols, director of education nonprofit group The Parent Connection, says a child’s self-control will go a long way toward a successful year.

With the start of kindergarten, there’s also a learning curve for parents on how to advocate for a child without putting teachers on the defensive.

One way to be positive is to ask a teacher what you can do at home to support a new strategy at school.

Being professional means respecting the chain of command at your child’s school and going to the teacher first. Be polite without making accusations.

“A ‘you-owe-me’ attitude will not get you closer to the education your child needs,” says Nichols. If you write accusatory emails, you risk tearing down the bridge between school and home.

Helpful books

• “Kindergarten, Here I Come!” by D.J. Steinberg (Grosset & Dunlap, 2012). Short rhymes about first-day nerves, lunchboxes, show-and-tell.

• “The Night Before Kindergarten” by Natasha Wing, (Reading Railroad Books, 2001). Kids get ready for their big first day.

• “Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten” by Joseph Slate (Puffin, 2001). A teacher and students get ready for school.

• “Welcome to Kindergarten” by Anne Rockwell (Walker Childrens, 2004). Tim visits his classroom.

• “Kindergarten Rocks!” by Katie Davis (Sandpiper, 2008). Dexter learns it’s OK to be nervous.

Email Betsy Flagler at p2ptips@att.net.

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