back to school, first day of school

10 Dos and Don’ts For A Successful Start To Kindergarten

Posted on Posted in Positive Parenting Strategies, Posts

What should you do to prepare your child for a successful start to kindergarten? What should they know? Find all the info from a former principal & teacher.


My “big girl” is starting school next week.


We have gone to her school and met some of the teachers, the principal, and done a little tour. Despite being told multiple times we were just there to finalize paperwork, she insisted on packing her backpack, bringing a snack, and was disappointed when we left her school after a half hour.


While my sweet, eager little girl is only attending preschool for the first time, it got me thinking of how actual school isn’t that far off. Her planning, declarations to neighbourhood kids that “I’m going to a new school!” and requests to be at school before it starts has our whole family excited. The person especially proud?


My recently retired, elementary school principal mom. “The secretaries used to joke that I could sense a kindergarten registration from a mile away because I’d jump out of my office to greet them.” Though our little girl is not starting elementary school yet (her preschool is in an elementary school), I wanted to ask my mom, who has nearly 40 years of experience, what she recommends parents do to make their child’s transition into kindergarten as smooth and successful as possible.


Here are important ‘dos and don’ts’ for a smooth and successful transition into kindergarten from a principal (and mom)!


What to do for A Successful Start To Kindergarten

What should your child know for kindergarten? How should you prepare your child for the start of kindergarten? Here are 10 dos and don'ts from a former school teacher and principal.


In the last week or so leading up to the first day of school, DO establish and maintain a regular routine in your household.

School is a big change and predictability will help your child feel secure leading up to such a big milestone.


DO tour the school with your child and take pictures.

Once home, you can create a short story or simply refer back to them and explain which one is the classroom, point out where certain things are (i.e. the bathroom, the kitchen centre, the tables where they will eat their snack, the cloakroom, etc.).


DO instil in your child a sense of identity.

Their full name, age, who their mommy and daddy are, who their siblings are are all examples of things that they may be asked or may help them feel a sense of who they are when meeting so many new people at once.


When prepping your child for school, DO work with their strengths and interests and DON’T work on skills they aren’t interested in.

Specifically, if your child struggles with writing their name, leave it. It will come in time in the classroom. Both literacy and numeracy are developed in early childhood through play. Research shows children’s rudimentary math skills are more advanced in the context of play, their vocabulary is richer, and their fine motor skills are more advanced.

So, if your child does not want to print her name but loves art, find fun ways to work on her fine motor skills through using play dough or crafting. But drop working on their name. If your child doesn’t have his numbers down, but is eager to kick a ball, keep score as your play! Not only will focusing on a skill that isn’t going well frustrate you both, it also won’t be particularly effective.

Decontextualizing learning (i.e. worksheets and printing) is not an effectual strategy in early childhood and likely won’t be consistent with how they are taught once school starts.


DO be honest about any concerns you may have about your child’s health, developmental milestones, or learning with both the school principal and your child’s teacher.

While you may want to minimize your child’s struggles so that he or she can make the best impression possible, being upfront sets your child and the school up for success. If your child has any developmental or health concerns the school will work to ensure the best possible environment for child’s individualized needs and will minimize any guesswork.


Once school has started, DON’T linger too long before leaving and DON’T just drop in to say hi.

In the case of the former, you’re delaying the inevitable and also prolonging their anticipation of you leaving. In terms of popping in, it may seem like a nice idea. However, your child, who may be transitioning into their day quite well, suddenly is reminded of your previous absence.


DO volunteer when you can and become involved in the school community.

This builds up relationships in the school and generates a greater sense of community for both you and your child.


DO keep a regular and ongoing dialogue with the school principal and your child’s teacher.

This helps keep everyone on the same page and fosters feelings of connectedness and involvement.


Get a free printable on kindergarten readiness by entering your email below!

39 thoughts on “10 Dos and Don’ts For A Successful Start To Kindergarten

  1. Don’t let yourself feel anxious or scared- kids pick up on that and can have a hard time. Send them in with confidence that they will have a great time and meet new friends.

    Do encourage them to ask someone to play with them – – kids are so much happier as soon as they feel they a friend in kindergarten and lots of times they are too shy to ask and the other kids pair up all around them. Try for play dates to help them feel connected to someone at school.

    Don’t wait until school to establish reading routines!
    Can’t express this one enough! Read to and with your kids all the time starting from months old!
    In k and the rest of their elementary years, they should read a book every night- try reading them their favorites until they start reading them back to you (memorized, wrong, all is good!) Or read a line and have them read it after you. Teach them small words they can recognize like “no” and pause and let them say predictable words to make them feel empowered and capable. Never let them feel like they are struggling- it’s ok to help them out! Confidence is key.

    I could go on for days – sorry!
    Kindergarten teacher and it’s back to school time!!

  2. My girls are staring K in a week and one thing we have been doing is practicing eating lunch from lunch kits. They are so excited to use new lunch boxes plus I have time to talk to them about what is a snack, what is a lunch and how to pace so they eat in time given and not miss out because they are talking

  3. Oh I used to teach Kindergarten and I agree wholeheartedly with all of your tips. It’s so important to remember that parents and teachers are a team, so I love that last point. I also love the idea of taking pictures of the classroom beforehand to really get your child familiar with the space. Oh, this makes me miss teaching Kindergarten! It’s such a great age!

    1. It’s no surprise you taught kindergarten because it seems kindergarten typically attracts the best of the best ❤️ thank you so much for reading and for your thoughtful comment ❤️❤️

      1. Oh that’s so sweet of you to say! Kindergarten is a lot of fun. I may go back once my kids are in school too.

  4. These are so great! We are starting kindergarten TOMORROW!!! Yikes. Still can’t believe it. We’re going to meet the teacher today and drop off stuff. I’m going to make sure and take pictures so we can talk about it when we get home. I also am going to reiterate the full name, mom and dad’s names, etc. Thank you so much to your Mom!

  5. That’s an interesting tip about not pushing things that your children are not already good at (or interested in). I hadn’t thought about that, because we always figured that we should work on our weakness. Thanks for the tip, appreciate the words!

  6. Hehehe my daughter isn’t in kindergarten get, but she’s going to all day preschool threw the school starting next week and omg! I’ve been trying to get her to eat her own lunch and to take off her own jacket etc… Such simple things, but to little kiddos omg, it is ridiculous how something so simple makes no sense to them lol

  7. Oh kindergarten! You are a very wise Mom. You have a pretty great list going here. I am fairly terrible at keeping up with the principal and need to do a better job on that. We smile and wave at drop off, but that probably isn’t cutting it….

  8. We are looking for a good place to enroll our son so he can start his education. Thank you for talking about the importance of touring the school with your kids. I can see that this can help them reduce the stress of a new situation and make sure the school has the proper security and programs to accommodate your child.

  9. This is some really good information about a child’s first day of school. I liked that you pointed out that you shouldn’t linger too long when dropping off your kid. My nephew is about to go into kindergarten and my sister will probably linger too long when she drops him off on the first day.

Leave a Reply