Goodbye, Summer 2016! Ready or not the kids are back to school. We recently spoke with Dr. Maria Panglao Rajan, a pediatrician at University Pediatrics on tips for making the most out the kindergarten year. She’s got some great advice here. Thanks so much to Dr. Rajan for her insight!
What are some skills parents should make sure their children have as they start kindergarten?
Starting kindergarten is a major milestone for a child and the family. A child has to adjust to listening to rules, getting along with others, paying attention to teachers and avoiding disruptive behavior. Parents should always listen to their children, encourage positive reinforcement and reassure them as they undergo this transition to school.
It is helpful to establish routines, and to encourage open communication, self-discipline and impulse control. It may also be helpful to give small household chores to give your child a sense of responsibility and help them learn to follow directions by giving simple steps.
How much homework (if any!) should a kindergartener be getting each night?
The goal of homework at a young age should be to help the child understand that they can continue to learn at home, after school. But the amount of homework is variable and depends on the school and program. It can vary from none to 10 minutes to 30 minutes a day. If you have any concerns, you should always speak with your child’s teacher.
Ideally, how much sleep should a kindergartener be getting each night?
Ideally, a kindergartener should get at least 11 hours of sleep per night.
What are some ways parents can ease a nervous new kindergartener’s anxiety?
Ways to help ease anxiety include establishing routines before school starts, setting a routine sleep schedule and getting enough sleep, and talking to your child about friends and activities at school. It may also be helpful to tour your child’s school and meet their teacher.
What are some signs that it’s more than just nerves? When should a parent start to worry if a kindergartener is having a hard time and what resources can a parent use to get help?
It is important to note that not every child is immediately successful at transitioning to school right away. Being involved in parent-teacher conferences and talking with your child’s pediatrician or childcare provider can provide objective observation and can help identify concerns with language development, social skills, and physical skills.
What’s ahead? What are the main goals a child should achieve in kindergarten before moving on to first grade?
Children develop skills at different rates and every teacher follows their own curriculum, but in general a child will learn to categorize objects, count and write to 10, name days of the week, identify and possibly draw shapes, recognize and name letters of the alphabet, and perform basic writing.
Dr. Maria Panglao Rajan is a pediatrician with University Pediatrics.
Levine Children’s Hospital