Three things parents need for kindergarten prep

For parents with children getting ready to start kindergarten, focus on three things: reading, playing, and encouraging.

It’s still summer vacation, but parents whose kids will begin kindergarten this fall already have questions in the back of their minds. Will my child like their teacher? Will they make friends? Will they be ready?

Kindergartner wearing a mask waves goodbye to parent in front of school gate.

While this transition to kindergarten can create anxiety for parents, Katie Barghaus and Casey Henderson from the Penn Child Research Center say that there are simple things that parents can do at home over the next few weeks to help their kids be more prepared to enter the classroom in the fall: read, play, and encourage.

Kindergarten provides the foundation for children’s educational experience. While we typically think about academic activities, like reading and math, as being the most important part of this experience, there are other skills—called social and emotional learning (SEL) skills—that are just as important to support children’s educational growth and development.

Read: Stories are a great way to teach children the importance of SEL skills and help them build empathy and respect, which are critical SEL competencies for school and for life.

Play: Play is one of the best “teachers” for young children. When children are playing, they are also learning how to self-regulate so they can follow the rules of the game and how to interact appropriately with the other people playing the game, which are critical SEL skills for school success.

Encourage: What you say and how you say it influences your child’s development of SEL skills. Providing encouragement to your child helps them feel supported even when they may not get something exactly right. There are some easy ways you can encourage your child during your daily routines.

Read more at Penn GSE.