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Summer is Ideal Time to Prepare for Kindergarten Success

While most students think of summer as a break from learning, for young kids entering kindergarten, summer is the ideal time to instill the skills that will make transitioning to school smoother.

Kindergarten has changed a lot since most of us started school. Today’s 5-year-olds are expected to arrive with basic academic and social skills so they are prepared on day one to start learning to read, write and do basic math. Here’s a sample from a list – taken from a national survey of kindergarten teachers a couple of years ago – of skills that can help ease the transition to kindergarten:

  • Child pretends to read. Understands that words are read from left to right. Looks at pictures and tells a story.
  • Recognizes own name and tries to write it.
  • Counts to 10 and can count objects.
  • Pays attention and follows simple directions.
  • Can repeat sequences of numbers, sounds and parts of stories.
  • Controls a pencil and crayon well. Cuts shapes and pastes them on paper.
  • Is potty trained. Dresses self. Brushes own teeth.
  • Recognizes authority. Shares with others. Works independently.

As parents, we can use fun, everyday activities to help our kids develop basic skills to build on and prepare them for kindergarten success. First Things First has a tip sheet to help parents prepare their kids over the summer for their first day of school. Tips range from reading and playing every day and ensuring kids get all their check-ups to practicing new routines and reducing first day anxiety. Additional resources can be found at in the Parents section under Early Education.

The number one tip? Read, talk, sing and play with your kids!

Even if you don’t have kindergarteners this year, it’s never too early to start helping kids prepare. Children who have positive early childhood experiences tend to score higher on school readiness assessments and are more likely to do well in school and graduate.

By turning everyday moments into learning moments, we can send our children to school with the skills – and the love of learning – that will help them succeed in kindergarten and beyond!

Sam Leyvas is Chief Executive Officer of First Things First. He can be reached at