Top 3 “Big Kid Skills” to learn before Kindergarten

Pumpkin starts Kindergarten in September. <gulp>

The hardest part about the kindergarten experience might not be what you would expect. For many children, it is the independence. Learning how to do all those little things moms, dads, grandmas and child care providers do for kids without giving it a second thought. Things like:

  •  Opening a wrapper
  •  Zippering up a jacket
  •  Putting on shoes
  •  Wiping after going to the washroom
  •  Washing hands

For the most part (as my colleagues tell me, and I’ll just have to trust them on this one), our little ones will be just fine. They will be with other kids of various abilities and our kids most likely will surprise us by just how resourceful and adaptable they are. But it is important to give them a step in the right direction by teaching them independence skills.

This week we’ll be doing a series of blog posts to help you help your little one get ready for “Big Kid School” by learning some “Big Kid Skills.” Let’s start with:

Big Kid Skill #1: Getting Dressed

It’s so easy to just dress Pumpkin myself. Especially when we are running late or she’s feeling rushed. But clearly we aren’t doing anyone any favours when we do.

Here are some tips for getting your kids to dress themselves:

  • When starting Kindergarten, stick with clothes that are easy to put on and take off. So for now, no buttons, zippers, overalls, or shoelaces. Hello elastic and Velcro! Your child may not win any fashion awards but there’s no beating independence when you’re 3 or 4 years old.
  • Help your child pick out their clothes the night before and you can hopefully avoid a battle of the wills in the morning. Talk about the weather forecast and ask what kinds of clothes we wear to stay cool or to keep warm.
  • Let them put on their own clothes, socks and shoes. When you notice the socks are twisted and the shoes are on the wrong feet, smile and praise them, because there’s nothing worse than having someone point out what you did wrong when you’ve tried your best. It’s like this conversation I had with my hubby once:

“Look honey, I mowed the lawn!” ~ Me, hoping for a “gee thanks, you just totally did a huge favour for me!”  Instead I heard:

“Uh… okay. You missed a couple of spots. Next time you need to do the outside of the lawn and then do the inside on a diagonal. But you really don’t need to mow it for me.”

Guess how many times I’ve mowed the lawn since…

“You did a fabulous job getting dressed by yourself” is all you need. 🙂 It really is okay if they mix patterns, clash colours and put their shoes on the wrong feet. All that stuff will come later. For now, practise at home. Practise putting on and wearing indoor shoes. Practise zippers and buttons without pressure. Practise tying simple knots. Playing dress-up with a friend is a great way to make it fun. Practise independent dressing and just like that your child will be able to get himself dressed for school!

Check out the next two posts in our series:

Big Kid Skill #2: Going to the Washroom at School

Big Kid Skill #3: The Ins and Outs of Backpacks and Lunchboxes

If you have questions or concerns about getting your child ready for Kindergarten, there are many ways to connect with us:

For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

About Andrea Scott RN

I’m a public health nurse with the HaltonParents team – you'll find me on Facebook, Twitter and on this blog, writing about all things parenting. I’ve been working for the Halton Region Health Department since 2006 and my focus has been on supporting parents with babies and little kids. I have two little ones myself, “Pumpkin” and “Monkey” who give me plenty to write about! :)
This entry was posted in Parenting, Parenting Your Toddler & Preschooler, Play, Growth & Development, Preparing for Kindergarten, Toddlers & Preschoolers and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Top 3 “Big Kid Skills” to learn before Kindergarten

  1. Pingback: Big Kid Skill #2: Going to the washroom at school | HaltonParents

  2. Pingback: Big Kid Skill #3 – The ins and outs of backpacks and lunchboxes | HaltonParents

  3. Pingback: Top 10 life skills for teens | HaltonParents

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  5. Donna says:

    This is such a fantastic resource for parents that have a child entering school for the first time…I really like how you give practical strategies to help with these top 3 skills. They are presented in easy to practise ways to help parents and kids to learn this new skill that they will need to use very day.

  6. Carolyn Wilkie, RN says:

    Hi Donna,
    Thank you for sharing your feedback with HaltonParents! We are thrilled you found the practical strategies helpful, and your comments were shared with the author. ~Carolyn, RN

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