Helping your child get ready for full day kindergarten

I was recently asked by Indiana Fox News to stop by the studio and give just a few brief tips on how to prepare for Full Day Kindergarten.  Part of the reason for this is because here in Indiana, many part time public kindergarten classrooms have now been changed to full day and it has raised concern for many parents.  You can view the 31/2 minute news video at the bottom of this post…

Getting Ready 

Really, whether you are getting ready for full day or half day kindergarten, many of the tips would be similar but because we are focusing on full day, these would be a few of the most important readiness tips I can share…


Healthy Habits


A good night’s sleep is very important for young children to be successful in school.  10 to 12 hours of sleep per night is the recommended time needed for young children.

After School Activities

Keep after school activities down to a minimum. After a long day at school, young children need time to relax and wind down from their day.

Eating Right

A healthy breakfast and a healthy lunch are very important. It is hard to concentrate on anything else when you get hungry. If you are packing your child’s lunch, choose foods that are filling and provide energy but at the same time can be eaten in a short amount of time.

Eating at the Table

If your child is used to eating away from the table, it is time to change that. Eating with the family at dinner time will give your child a good chance to talk with you about his or her day. You also will want your child in the habit of sitting at the table until he or she is finished with the meal.

Lunch time at school is often a short period of time and your child needs to be in the practice of eating a meal without getting up to run around during the meal time.

Fostering Independence

Dressing Self

Your child will be more confident if he or she can put on a jacket, pull up. zip or button pants, put on shoes, and other basic skills in dressing himself during the school day. Be sure to choose clothing that your child can be relaxed in, play in and take on or off (as needed) all by himself.

By the way – this does not include tying shoes. It is not unusual for kindergarteners to learn how to tie their shoes during their kindergarten school year.

Care of Belongings

Start early teaching your child how to put things away when finished playing with them at home.

Remind your child to put lids back on markers, crayons back in the box, and to close the lid on glue bottles or glue sticks.  Give your child opportunity to use these items and practice taking care of their school supplies at home so they will be prepared to take care of them at school.

Back Pack Talk

Help your child select a back pack that is large enough to fit full sized folders, books, and papers in but not so large that the child can’t carry it easily to and from school.

Sit down with your child every day after school and go through the back pack to see what is coming home and to talk about what might need to be coming home.

Remind your child to put take-home papers in the back pack.

Potty Talk

Make sure your child is wiping his own bottom after going potty.  As a general rule, Kindergarten teachers are not in the practice of wiping bottoms and it is in your child’s best interest to take care of his or her own hygiene while at school.

Make sure your child is also in the habit of washing hands after going potty as well.

Developmental Readiness

Emotional Readiness

If your child hasn’t spent much time away from you, heading off to a full day of Kindergarten is going to be a big step.

If possible, start smaller by taking your child to spend a fun day at trusted relatives or friends houses here and there so your child will be more confident and less anxious when you are leaving and while you are not there.

Social Readiness

Give your child lots of opportunities to spend time with other children his or her same age.

Don’t be in a big rush to interfere with every “normal childhood” conflict that arises. Your child needs plenty of practice developing his or her own skills in making new friends, getting along with others, working through disappointments and conflicts, cooperating, taking turns, and discovering how to be a good friend.

If your child is struggling to positively work through some of these social skills on his or her own, sit down at home and give some healthy tips and encouragement.

Physical Readiness

Give your child opportunities to develop both fine motor and large motor skills through play and creative experiences.

Give your child ample opportunity to develop fine motors skills through activities that include cutting, gluing, painting, drawing, folding, tearing, and other uses of those small motor skills.

Give your child ample opportunity to play outdoors, toss and catch a ball, run, march, jump, and other large motor development type activities.

Cognitive Readiness

Your child will be learning much throughout his or her kindergarten year but you can participate at home through some of the following ways…

–       Read, Read, Read: Reading with and to your child often will help your child as they begin their path to mastering literacy and language and more.

–       Decision-Making: Give your child ample opportunities that will foster his or her ability to make good decisions and choices. Sometimes a “not-so-good” decision under your watchful eye can lead to an opportunity to learn and make better decisions in the future.

–       Ask your child open ended questions. These are questions that promote critical thinking and require more than a yes or no answer or a one word response.


Self-regulation is having the ability to know when a certain behavior or action needs to be changed.

Help your child develop the skills to regulate or monitor or recognize when his or her own behavior and actions need to be stopped, changed, or toned down a bit.

For example, a child who can recognize when the play is getting too rough or the laughter is too loud and then can make good decisions to adjust that behavior or action will be on the path towards positive self-regulation.


Encourage, model, and teach your child to care about other children and people as well as the things in their world like pets, plants, and the things that belong to others.

Developing a sense of empathy is an important part of early development and you want your child to have a sense of caring and concern so that he or she will grow up to value the well-being of others as well as self.

See the interview on Indiana Fox Morning News below…

Available on Amazon

Learn more about how to help your child get ready for kindergarten with this simple book of everyday ideas you can do at home.  It’s available on Kindle too!



By |2012-07-24T10:00:51+00:00July 24th, 2012|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Kelly July 24, 2012 at 11:01 am - Reply

    These are wonderful tips. I’m saving them for next fall!

  2. Susan Case July 25, 2012 at 9:06 am - Reply

    Wonderful post and video!

  3. Cristina July 25, 2012 at 9:30 am - Reply

    Thanks for this post, Deborah.
    My daughter will start school next September. She will have just turned 3, but this will be the first time she is in a school environment. She loves spending time with other relatives, away from mum and dad, and she enjoys the company of children.
    I am a bit anxious about how she will react the first days/weeks, but I won’t let her notice. The school doesn’t let parents trespass the main door. We’ll just leave her at the door and say goodbye. In any case, I rely on her and I know that she will do well, however unfamiliar the environment and people will be. And, if she needs us to cope with it, we’ll be there to help her.
    I’ll let you know how everything goes.
    Thanks again.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. July 25, 2012 at 3:58 pm - Reply

      You are being such a brave mom:) I would love to hear how her first day goes – I am sure she will have a wonderful experience with your support and encouragement along the way.

      • Cristina July 25, 2012 at 5:44 pm

        Thanks, Deborah.
        Actually, my surname is Valiente, which means Brave in English! hahahahh.
        I’ll let you know about the experience

  4. Marie July 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm - Reply

    I like the way you used the physical items as cues to reinforce the important concepts. Very well done job of teaching. This is valuable information and your website is becoming my ‘go to’ for my prep and research. Thank- you!

  5. Susan Case July 25, 2012 at 8:39 pm - Reply

    I loved your video as well as tips. Very good information.

  6. Lindsay July 26, 2012 at 12:20 am - Reply

    i love this, it is so important for parents to know that there is so much more to Kindergarten then just knowing their ABC’s. When I directed at a childcare center I would have parents get upset when their child missed the cut off date because they know their ABC’s. I thought to myself that they dont know how to sit still or cant share but oh my they know their letters. thanks for your great blog I get great ideas for my preschoolers.

  7. Mrs. Brenda L. Cosse' July 27, 2012 at 8:38 am - Reply

    Hi5! ‘Teach Preschool, your good advice is appreciated. We primarily share with families living on the Autism Spectrum. Your insight is relevant and applicable for us, too.
    Sharing on Blogger next week.
    Thanks for pinning. Today, we pinned your post on our ‘EnjoyHi5Autism’ Board named ‘Educating & Learning & Teaching’ at

  8. Mrs. Brenda L. Cosse' July 27, 2012 at 8:44 am - Reply

    How do we follow ‘Teach Preschool’ via WordPress? We post there, too. Are we overlooking your ‘press it’ button/widget?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. July 27, 2012 at 9:22 am - Reply

      Hmmm, I don’t have a press it button. I will have to look into that!

  9. Anu Ganesh August 1, 2012 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    Thank you very much for the tips. My son is starting preschool this year and am already tensed! Absolutely loved the post!

  10. Annette {Simple Mom} August 18, 2012 at 11:26 am - Reply

    I have a similar post ready for this week since my daughter is heading to K and I am a former teacher. You examined a few things that I didn’t. Lots of good stuff!

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