How to prepare your child (and you) for kindergarten

Building a foundation for learning is the best thing you can do when choosing a child care program.

Kindergarten is a big transition for children and their parents. It’s an important milestone marking the beginning of a child’s learning journey, and families can make the transition easier with preparation.

According to the University of Minnesota, there are some questions you should consider when deciding if your child is ready for kindergarten. However, no matter what your school district considers ready for kindergarten, it’s important to pick a day care and preschool curriculum that strengthens your child’s ability to adapt and learn from new challenges.

What programs help with adapting to challenges?

When children have experiences that nurture and enhance their development, it stimulates critical thinking skills. Strengthening those skills help children mature physically, emotionally, developmentally and socially. Building this foundation, allows your child to take on new challenges as they progress through their development.

What do these programs look like and where can you find them? Well, one place to start is accreditation. Accreditation ensures that there is a certain level of quality being met with a program. It is a voluntary process that early childhood programs go through to prove they meet certain academic, social and quality standards. 
The largest accrediting organization for preschool programs is the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). NAEYC has 10 individual criteria the program has to meet:

  1. Relationships 
  2. Curriculum 
  3. Teaching 
  4. Assessment of child progress 
  5. Health 
  6. Teachers 
  7. Families 
  8. Community relationships 
  9. Physical environment 
  10. Leadership and management

Why building a strong foundation for learning is important

The environment is an important part of how your child learns. Children have to feel safe to explore their curiosity and personal expression. Warm, caring and fun environments encourages trust and communication. Playing and learning in these environments help children establish healthy reasoning, problem-solving skills, as well as positive interactions with other children and adults.  

When programs go above and beyond curriculum to develop your child as a whole person—mind, body and spirit—your child builds more awareness about their surroundings. Building the children’s worldview grows their empathy for others and strengthens their relationships with their family and community. 

Field trips, volunteer projects, classroom visitors and presenters all help children learn more about the world around them. Theme days, holiday programs and family nights are all experiences that create a closer bond to the families and their communities.

Build your own support network

Developing your own parent support system is just as important as finding the right environment for your child to learn. Establishing true engagement with teachers and parents creates and sustains a trusting environment that builds communication and mastery of skills with your child.  

For example, the Y Network is built in to the NAEYC-accredited YMCA day care and preschool programs. When your children enter the Early Childhood Learning Center (ECLC), you’re connected to something much larger than day care. You’re connected to a network devoted to children and families throughout the city, state and country. This network—over 150 years strong—is committed to developing the potential of every child, while promoting healthy living and fostering a sense of social responsibility. 

At the Y, strengthening community is the cause. Every day, staff works side-by-side with our neighbors to ensure—regardless of age, income or background—everyone has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. From child care to youth programs to extraordinary camping opportunities, a healthy beginning at a Y ECLC can be the start of a healthy lifestyle beyond childhood.