School readiness: 5 tips to help preschoolers enter kindergarten

Suzie was very eager to start her first of day of school. She was prepared with her backpack along with other supplies and her big enthusiastic smile. Her sister, Sonia, on the other hand, was nervous and rejected the idea.

Sonia had mixed feelings about starting school. She thought the first day might be confusing and didn’t know what to expect. She hadn’t met her new teacher and hadn’t gathered her school supplies. She didn’t even know where to begin.

However, Suzie was happy to have met her new teacher before starting school. She was excited to have seen some of her classmates and her new classroom. She was ready to learn. Sonia was not motivated.

Children don’t have to encounter the first day of school by themselves. Many of them, especially young preschoolers, will have an array of emotions. Starting school is a new experience for young children that may not be familiar in a typical setting.

How can parents, caregivers and educators help preschoolers on their first day of school? And, even perhaps, help them on their first week.

1.  Walk with them to the new school

Even experts agree that having parents or caregivers assist their children in familiarizing with the new environment can be a great help. Preschoolers can feel apprehensive to new surroundings, especially when they are away from their caregivers.

To ease the uneasy feeling of separation, parents can walk together, if possible. Or, if the playground is available, parents can allow some playtime, emphasizing that is the school playground.

If at all possible, experts suggest attending parental meetings and any other events that can help ease hesitant preschoolers. And they will regard that action as an immense parental support, a memory they will never forget.

2.  Shop for school supplies together

From crayons to backpacks to new clothes, it is all part of the new school experience. Children, even among friends, may be comparing notes on what type of backpack they want or what kind of clothes they prefer.

Although it can take away from the focus on learning, shopping together as a family can motivate the worried child to overcome those feelings. Even simply purchasing a lunch box together can show them how much parents appreciate their feelings in starting school.

School sign

3.  Prepare preschoolers for daily routine

When starting school, many young children may not even be aware of a routine. The daily task of waking up, brushing their teeth, eating breakfast, packing a lunch, getting to there on time and so many other duties – all may be overwhelming to a new student.

Parents can help with a new routine by starting a few weeks before school. Although some preschoolers may dislike the idea of waking up early, it promotes the idea of beginning a new day fresh. Having a daily nutritious breakfast motivates them to keep healthy and nourishes their body. Opting for good sleeping habits can promote learning and increase their attention span.

When children are taught a routine, they are more apt to learn and succeed academically because they know what to expect. Events that are not planned can worry a preschooler, which can lead to more anxiety and, even possibly, stress.

4.  Get annual check-ups and immunizations

Many school districts may even reinforce the idea of early vaccination before starting school. Children shouldn’t have to miss an important event or class time because of illnesses.
In fact, many clinics and community centers nationwide are providing free check-ups and vaccinations. It’s a matter of early planning and scheduling.

Even though it may be the first time to visit a dentist or clinic, parents should talk to their children about what to expect on their visit. They might need to know dentists, nurses, and medical practitioners are professionals to help them with their dental and health care.

5.  Be compassionate and understanding

Perhaps, after all that you can possibly do as a parent or caregiver to ease the tension of starting school, your preschooler still cries and feels the anxiety that you’re abandoning him or her. But it is okay to have those feelings. It is even more important to make sure preschoolers know that, too.

Being ready for school is not simply getting ready with new supplies, backpack, and other materials. It is getting ready to learn. It is getting ready to know new classmates. It is getting them ready for a new stage in their lives.

Barbara Mascareno

Barbara is an educational writer, teacher, and instructional designer. She loves to write K-12 education content, teaching strategies, bilingual education approaches, and foreign language.

2 Comments

  1. Audrey J. Mueller on at

    My 5yr old son began kindergarten this year and has been having trouble settling in. He has always been aggressive and bit and hit from an early age, although biting has stopped. He has no cognitive issues, he is bright, but not bored in class. But he does have some sensory issues; very easily overstimulated, limited food likes, bothered by some textures, throws himself at me constantly. And now he’s hitting and throwing things in kindergarten and being sent home for it (rightly so, I’m NOT complaining about the school/teacher/system/parents/etc.). He choked another student and was sent home for two days, going back today. This is new and appalling. He has been seeing a play therapist for almost two years, he has been seen by our pediatrician, we have tried strict behavior modification, talking it out, 123 Magic, rewards and bribes and tons of other things. My husband and I are at our wits end, we have two other children, under 3, and I am a stay-at-home- mom, so my son is not being neglected or abused. He hasn’t been traumatized or experienced major loss, he’s just so angry and can’t seem to control himself. We had an SST (student study team) meeting at school with the teacher, principal, school psychologist and myself and we have a plan in place, but it doesn’t seem like enough. I need to know what to do next, I want him to stop being so angry and violent. I want him to be ok. And I want him to like school, which he does not at the moment. Is there a special school for him? I’m open to suggestions. Unfortunately we have no money at all, but I would still like all suggestions no matter how expensive. Thanks.



    • Hi Audrey,

      Thank you so much for reaching out. I appreciate your comment.

      In many cases, some children tend to develop much later (maturity/immaturity) than other children. Most parents can drive themselves crazy and have tried everything. I know you must be exhausted from trials and errors. I do suggest that maybe he can get checked for any vitamin deficiency. Sometimes some foods don’t agree with some kids (besides allergies) – some foods can alter the moods of some children and others do not. I know you must be careful to what he eats – maybe try organic, natural foods (less processed foods).

      Also, I don’t know how many kids are in his class, but sometimes for some children, they prefer individualized attention and small classes. You might want to look into charter schools or a private school where they specialize in special education. But Audrey, you’re the best monitor of your child. Perhaps, the circumstances in the classroom make him anxious or he might feel lonely. Feelings of isolations and alienation can make any child react in inappropriate ways.

      The best advice I can give you is to talk to his teacher, which looks like you are already doing. But the most important advice is to tell your child how much you love him.

      Hope this help and wishing you the best.



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