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How to Prepare My Kid for TK/Kindergarten

Getting your child ready for TK/kindergarten is important – and chances are you've already been doing it all along! Talking, reading, and singing with your child are three simple, free ways to prepare your child for school and for life.

Mother and father saying bye to kids at school

Starting TK or kindergarten is an exciting milestone for your child. Here are some ways you can help prepare your child for the big day.


  • Let your child play! Activities like imaginary/make-believe, board games, and “cooperative” or team games (like soccer) are great examples.

  • Read books about kindergarten or going to school and talk about them together.

  • Encourage independence throughout the day. This can include having your child get dressed on her own (or with minimal help) in the morning or taking on small daily tasks and routines like clearing her plate or filling her water bottle.

  • Encourage consistent hygiene skills like washing hands before and after meals.


  • Read with your child, and point out letters, numbers, and shapes as you turn each page.

  • Sing with your child. Rhyming songs and songs with repeated rhythm patterns are fun – along with your own favorite tunes, of course!

  • Talk with your child, tell him about your day and what you’re doing, and ask him questions about his day.

  • Give your child simple, step-by-step directions to follow. For example, when cooking together, explain the steps you’d like your child to complete along the way.


  • Let your child practice large muscle movements, like running, climbing, and jumping.

  • Encourage your child to play using small muscle movements. Stringing beads, building blocks, and rolling out play dough are all great ideas.

  • Encourage writing using all types of materials, including crayons, chalk, and paint brushes.

  • Help your child learn how to use blunt-tipped safety scissors – not just cutting skills, but how to hold scissors safely.

  • Encourage drawing and coloring, and talk about your child’s artwork together.

  • Work with your child to learn to write her name.


  • Sing, read, and talk about the alphabet.

  • Talk about colors and shapes.

  • Count numbers up to 30, and even sing about them.

  • Teach your child her full name, parent’s names, and phone number.

Expert Tip: Most schools schedule a TK/kindergarten orientation session before the first day of school. Be sure to mark your calendar for this important day! Your child will get to meet her teacher, check out the school and classroom, and maybe even make a few new friends. This special experience can help ease your child’s nerves (and maybe yours!) and build excitement about starting school.

First 5 California
Contributed by:
First 5 California
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