For many students, kindergarten is the first experience with formal schooling. It can be a difficult and exciting time for both parents and students, as they adjust to a new phase in their lives. Many parents wonder what they can do to help make this transition easier on their children and what types of skills are needed for students to be successful. For the most part, basic academic and social skills are enough to help a new kindergarten student get off on the right foot.

Academic Skills reports that it is helpful for students to enter kindergarten with a foundation in a few basic academic skills. These skills include being able to recognize letters, numbers, basic shapes and colors and writing uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as their names. Although most students entering kindergarten are not able to read independently, it is important for parents to read aloud to their children, so they can start to recognize sight words and the sounds each letter makes.

Social Skills

The National Center for Education Statistics questioned kindergarten teachers about which social skills they felt were important for young students. Teachers listed communication and language skills, as well as knowing how to share, work cooperatively and take turns at the top of the list. Education website Scholastic states that a desire for independence is important, too. Teachers expect kindergarten children to be able to put belongings away, eat independently, use the restroom and wash their hands with minimal help.

School Skills

Certain social skills are especially important in a school setting, such as, being able to listen, pay attention, follow simple directions and walk quietly in a line. Some fine-motor skills are also helpful, such as being able to use school supplies like pencils, paste, colors, scissors and paint brushes. By the first week of class, most kindergarten students are beginning to write the alphabet, and students who have not mastered the skill of using pencils might fall behind.

What Parents Can Do

In a report on school readiness, the National Association of School Psychologists provided tips for parents to prepare their children for kindergarten. The report suggests that parents create and follow predictable routines for meals, nap times and bedtimes. They also can read aloud to their children and encourage independence and a sense of responsibility by assigning simple chores like putting toys away. Parents also should provide times for social interaction by setting up play dates or other opportunities for their children to socialize with others and teach and model appropriate manners.

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