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A day in the life of a kindergartner has changed in many ways. Gone are the days of taking naps and half days. Enter the days of reading, writing and STEM. We live in a fast-paced world. Kindergarten is a gradual learning process filled with new and exciting experiences.

Just as the great late night TV sensation David Letterman was known for his nightly Top Ten List, chock-full of informational gems, Valparaiso Community School’s kindergarten teachers, Julie Dombrowski and Angie Mumaw, also enjoy a good ‘ole Top Ten.

The following is a treasure trove of ways to help your incoming kindergartner have a smooth and successful transition this fall. Remember, it’s a developmental process for children.

10. You’ve got a friend in me. Try and meet other families in your neighborhood whose children attend the same school. These children may be riding the bus with your child, and seeing a familiar face on the bus can be comforting.

9. Take a trip down memory lane. Talk with your child about school. Tell them some fond memories from your school days. Get them excited about meeting new friends and learning new things.

8. Read outside. Read inside. Read all around. Identifying letters and sounds is the foundation of reading. This is a great start to helping your child build on literacy skills. Your child may or may not be “reading” per se. However, you can foster their reading process by reading to them, listening to them “read,” and using picture clues to help your child build comprehension. Then talk about the book. After reading, engage your child in a discussion of events which occurred in the book: what happened at the beginning, middle and end of the story. Print concepts are an integral part of becoming an emergent reader. You can better prepare your child by showing him or her how to hold a book properly or pointing out a letter versus a word. For example: “Point to the letter C," or “Can you find a sight word you recognize?”

7. What’s in a name? Starting from day one your child’s name goes on everything. Have your child practice writing his or her name using an uppercase letter to start and the rest should be lowercase letters. Fine motor skills are not limited to paper-pencil activities. Go outside and learn; write letters on the driveway with sidewalk chalk.

6. Zipped, snapped and ready to go. Practicing independent life skills such as getting dressed in the morning, putting on shoes and zipping jackets are important everyday tasks. Now take it to the next level: assign your child a task that may challenge their skill set, like opening their own juice box, yogurt or applesauce container. Let them try! Lunchtime at school is limited, and they will need to either be independent or patiently wait their turn and ask for help.

5. Get crafty. Don’t be afraid to make a mess. That’s how children learn best. Practice using scissors and glue. Using scissors is like exercise for their fingers.

4. Simon says. Can your child follow multistep directions? This is a great way to manage a gradual release of responsibility. Let them put their own supplies into their backpacks. For example: “Put your folder in your backpack, zip it up, and put it on the hook.”

3. Shop ‘til you drop. Include your child in back-to-school shopping. Assist them in finding the correct supplies from their list. This will help build excitement for the upcoming school year.

2. Stamina is important. The school day is 6.5 hours long. That can be a long day for a little one. Enforce a proper bedtime for your child so he or she is rested and ready to learn the next school day.

1. Fun in the sun. Remember to enjoy your summer! Have experiences with your child, and make fun memories.

Angie Mumaw and Julie Dombrowski are kindergarten teachers at Valparaiso's Memorial School. The opinions are the writers'.


Community Coordinator

Annette is Community Coordinator for The Times. She has been with the paper for two decades. A resident of Hobart, she graduated from Purdue University with degrees in English and German.