We recently asked kindergarten teachers of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us what they want parents and students to know before the school year starts. Here are some of the best responses:
1. Even if you're feeling anxious, put on a happy and excited face in front of your child.
"Children feed off their parents' emotions, so if you start to tear up at the mention of 'kindergarten,' then they will start associating school as a sad or scary thing. Get them excited about it, talk up all the things they will learn and friends they will make! I completely understand it being hard for parents, but your little ones will be in good hands, and faking it ‘til you make it may help you both in the long run."
2. Your child doesn't need to know how to read before the year starts, but they should be able to identify upper and lowercase letters and letter sounds.
"I love Dr. Jean and Jack Hartman songs (many are on YouTube) for practicing letter names and sounds as well as numbers. It’s also helpful to practice writing their name with a capital letter followed by lowercase letters." —emilya4d0d6146a
3. Yes, your child might cry when you try to leave, but it's ok to just walk away.
"I know it’s hard, but even if they are crying and screaming for you because they are having separation anxiety, you’ve just got to walk away. Assure them that you love them and will be coming to get them after school is over and exit the class. The longer you stay to console/calm them, the more intense it will get." —valerieevea
4. They should also be able to follow basic instructions.
"Along with reading and counting with your child, start giving them two- and three-step directions. For example: 'Please pick up your toys, and put on your shoes and a jacket.' This is an important skill in school and will help your child feel more successful and confident." —arield442d8debc
5. Teach them how to open things on their own.
"Teach them things that will help them to be more independent like opening things in their lunch, zippers, buttons, shoes. Don't do everything for them, they can do some much on their own and they want to." —stellakindergarten
6. Make sure they at least know what their own name looks like.
"Please have your child learn their own name. I've seen kids who don't even know what their own name looked like, they couldn't even it recognize it on a name tag." —vonkitty
7. And it might seem a little weird, but they should also know their parents' name(s) before starting school.
"Your child should also know your actual name. I always have a few students unable to tell me anything about their parents aside from mom or dad. This is not only critical information, but it is a safety concern as well." —karas49b3f515d
8. Giving them a consistent bedtime well before school starts will make a world of difference.
"Consistent bedtime and wake-up time is crucial for any kid. Your child should not be going to sleep at 10. Anywhere between 8-8:30 is a great range for kindergarteners." —laurenl454f72bb8
9. Introducing your child to their future classmates over the summer will help them (and you) feel comfortable with this new group of people.
"A lot of learning goes on in kindergarten and NOT just academics. If you can, set up play dates with other kids and parents in the class so that the first day and year is that much easier. Plus the more connected the parents are, the better the experience for everyone." —skipnees
10. If they have simple life skills like knowing how to share or sit through a story, they're in good shape.
"As a kindergarten teacher, it doesn't matter to me if your child comes in knowing their sounds and writing their name. We'll learn all that in school! The kids who are most successful and have the easiest transition into a full day kindergarten classroom can sit through a story, share with others, and have a little independence (can button their own pants, answer basic questions without prompting etc)." —sparky88
11. Basic social skills and emotional management will also go a long way.
"Teach children how to both be good winners and losers when it comes to games, use their words to express how they are feeling: 'I am sad/mad because ______', and be okay with the word 'no'. These small things will be a lifesaver for both you, them, and the teachers. It really is a team effort." —cmacc2018
12. Spend as much time with them outside as you cam.
"Take your kids outside — playgrounds, pools, even a walk around the neighborhood. The benefits of fresh air and physical activity include increasing their ability to learn and pay attention in school." —funnyvalentine
13. Being punctual and having good attendance matters, so try mastering that while you can.
"Bring your kid every day and bring them on time. A lot of parents think, 'Oh well it's just kindergarten, they can skip,' but they need a routine and cannot be expected to learn anything if you bring them twice a week, once a week on time and once a week at 11 just in time for recess and lunch. They will learn so much more and have more fun if they are actually here." —britnip452dd0bd7
14. Yes, you'll have to put in some after-school work with your child to help the lessons really hit home.
"You HAVE to work with them at home. Yes it’s our job to teach them, but in order to be successful, they have to do their nightly reading, practice sight words, help them memorize their address/phone number/birthday, and teach them how to tie their shoes. If what we teach during the day is never practiced at home, it will take them twice as long to learn it." —kaitlincatherinec
15. Put their name on anything they plan on bringing into the classroom.
"Write their name on EVERYTHING. This helps the teacher stay organized and prevents student items from being lost."
16. They — not you, and definitely not their teacher — should be wiping after going to the bathroom.
"Please dear God stop wiping their butts for them or letting them get fully undressed to poop. A little independence goes a long way, folks!!!" —whitneyt43c2218ea
17. Oh, and please, please, please read to your child at home.
"One of the best things you can do is read to your child every day! If they know a couple sight words, like "an" or "so", they will start recognizing them! Plus, it’s a great way to bond with your child. But seriously, I cannot stress how important it is to read to your child, it will help them learn to read and get them to love reading! The kids that eventually (in later grades) are in the lowest reading levels are kids who have parents who never read to them (that’s one out of many things I’ve connected between all the lowest readers) Read. To. Your. Kids. Every. Day."