How to Prepare Parents for Kindergarten: Helpful Advice From Parents – Part 2

Blog Title text:  How to Prepare Parents for Kindergarten:  Helpful Advice from Parents - Part 2

Wanna know a secret? Heading into kindergarten with helpful advice from parents who have recently been through it can make a huge difference. The kind of difference between having a “not-so-great”, just okay, or stellar kindergarten year. This is true for BOTH the child and the parent. Wait…what? Yep. I speak the truth. Preparing parents for kindergarten is just as important as preparing your actual kindergartener. The bonus? When parents and kids are happy – so are teachers! WIN-WIN-WIN!  


Funny teacher with oversized glasses checking for kindergarten readiness

Psst! If you really want the behind-the-scenes stuff that I promise you every teacher wants you to know before that special first day of kindergarten – then you NEED my free PDF. Trust me – you will laugh, you will be informed, and you WILL be READY. I've got your back!


Ok, think of me as your friend who you KNOW has your best interest at heart. The friend that cares enough to pull you aside and say the thing that you don't want to hear. But yet, you do.

You have food in your teeth.”

See what I mean? Of course, you do. You don't want to be told that you have been grinning and chatting it up and that food has been stuck for who knows how long?! Why didn't someone tell me??

Are you with me? You DO want to hear it. And the friend that is a great friend will tell you. I'm here today to be that friend. And I'm more than happy that today I have some truth-telling friends with me too.

Good Advice From Parents – TO Parents

In May we are at the height of kindergarten registration and assessments. There are usually a handful of consistently asked questions that I get from parents. If you are wondering if perhaps you have the same questions, you can read more about them here.

Also, there are also more than a handful of questions most kindergarten teachers find themselves wishing parents would ask. For those, you can read more here.

I realized that the answers I give are from a teacher's perspective only. Why had I never thought to ask parents who have recently experienced kindergarten what they think would have been helpful? Here's the thing. If you have not been exposed to kindergarten recently – you may be expecting a repeat of YOUR experience. (Here comes that friend again….do I have food in my teeth AGAIN?!)

Today's kindergarten is NOT the kindergarten you probably remember.

(It should be noted that Im speaking from a public school teacher's perspective.)

Let's hear from the experts: Parents who have very recently completed a kindergarten year. This is Part 2 of “Helpful Advice From Parents”. I encourage you to go back and read Part 1.

Question #1: What DID you NOT know before your child went to kindergarten, that you WISH YOU HAD KNOWN?

I knew that my child would learn a ton about reading, writing, math, science, etc., in kindergarten (way more than I did as a napping, chocolate milk-slurping student back in the good ol' kinder half-days). What I wish I'd known is that ALL THAT is still only half the story.

I was shocked by how big a role social-emotional education played in the curriculum. I guess that I assumed that kids would show up on Day 1 ready and willing to pay attention, follow rules, treat others with respect, and believe in themselves. In hindsight, it seems so obvious that those are skills that must be taught, practiced, and reinforced too!

Before my child started kindergarten, I did not appreciate how many hats kindergarten teachers wear; they're mediators, motivational speakers, comedians, counselors, healers, and so much more. Kindergarten is a lot for the little hearts and minds, and I wish I had gone into it knowing that helping my son cope emotionally – with empathy, patience, kindness, and encouragement – would end up being every bit as important as helping him solve a subtraction problem.

Social-Emotional Learning is a Huge Part of Kindergarten

We hadn't registered how much socio-emotional learning and growth would be a necessary part of his experience and integrated into his ability to participate well in class, learn to navigate new friendships, and respond appropriately to teachers.

We also didn't realize that peer pressure already would be such a thing for him in K {e.g. pink (his former favorite) is a “girl's color” so he switched to red. Sigh.}, or that a desire to belong would lead to some behavioral shifts (being overly “silly,” at times at the cost of respect or kindness.).

We also needed to realize we weren't failing as parents if things got tough, we just needed to lean into a strong partnership with his amazing kindergarten teacher and trust his ability and desire to grow.

Question #2: Did you feel like your child was prepared to go to kindergarten? If YES – in what way? If NOT – what would you have done differently?

Yes, thank goodness! And the credit for that goes to his excellent pre-K program. It emphasized phonics, writing, and sight words, which gave my son a strong foundation for English language arts and a confidence boost in his beginner reading days.

But there were also seemingly little things that made big differences, like getting him accustomed to carrying a full-size backpack, hanging up his coat when he arrived each morning, doing daily homework (however light it was), and spending time away from me for a chunk of the day. Being used to those things when he started kindergarten made the transition so much easier – not just on him, but on me too.


We actually decided to send him as the youngest in his class (he has a late August birthday) because he'd done well as the youngest in pre-K and demonstrated kindergarten readiness. We are still glad we did, but because of the socio-emotional learning, we had moments of doubt.

He loved the academics of kindergarten but we needed to walk with him socio-emotionally and were so grateful for a teacher who was willing to use her wisdom to walk us through the navigation of friendships, behavioral struggles, etc.

Question #3: Was your child excited to go? Nervous? Some other feeling?

Our child was delighted to be in kindergarten. He's extroverted and loves learning, so the opportunity to spend more time learning each day and meet new people had him really excited from day one.

We also made sure to talk through each step of the day and imagine what he might encounter, and practice any little hiccups he could meet (e.g. he's a vegetarian, and we talked through how he'd clearly communicate that in the cafeteria if needed, he has two moms, so how to respond to questions about his family, etc.).

Question #4: Was kindergarten what you had expected for them?

It exceeded our expectations in terms of how much he was invited into academic learning, celebrating who he is, and how to build friendships with accountability to relationships. He certainly had tough days but he loved the challenges.

Cute kindergarten boy in glasses giving a thumbs up, along with a helpful quote from a recent kindergarten parent

Question #5: What is the BEST advice you would give NEW kindergarten parents who are seeking out information?

Read everything that comes home: emails, handouts, messages, etc. Apparently, they actually contain important information that's often necessary to your kindergartener's learning and participation. Be respectful of the time and also proactive in reaching out to the teacher, even if it's not academic.

Also remember, if your kindergartener has had consequences for behavior at school, they don't need extra consequences at home. Show them you love and support them, and then talk through what's going on socio-emotionally and their pathways to different choices. Even practice them.

Question #6: Are there any words of encouragement or advice you'd like to offer new or future kindergarten parents?

My son is always chattiest about his day right after the dismissal bell rings. In our 10-minute walk home from school, I find out more about what he learned, who he played with, and what made him happy or sad, than at any other time. Once he gets home, he's on to the next thing.

So my advice: Listen closely during those precious moments when your child opens up about school. Ask questions. Show genuine interest. That connection will benefit you both.


Sometimes things go off the rails – behavioral missteps, lack of after-school routine, neglected book bag books, and home reading practice – and it feels like you're ruining your child's chance of really getting the most out of kindergarten (or maybe that's just me…).

But it turns out that supporting your kid, communicating with their teacher, and letting kindergarten work its magic means incredible learning is taking place, and you have time and space to reset. Savor the moments of great joy and hold the tough days with open palms and grace for yourself and everyone involved.

HELPFUL ADVICE FROM PARENTS – THAT's A WRAP

And that, my friends, is some of the best free advice out there. If you didn't pick up on it, let me restate a very important thing that both of these amazing moms stressed.

Being prepared for kindergarten academically is important. (And side note – if you are worried about your child in comparison with other kindergarten kids – please read this.)

But academics are not the only thing.

As a kindergarten teacher with a decade of experience, I can confidently say it is not even the most important thing.

Understanding and being prepared for a multitude of social-emotional type learning experiences is KEY.

Kindergarten is the perfect place for your child to really get grounded in how to respectfully relate to others. There will be growing pains as they learn how to stay confident in who THEY are. This is the most exhausting yet rewarding part of being a kindergarten teacher.

Communicate with your teacher. Ask open-ended questions to your child. It's a short, magical year. Soak it up and enter with an open mind and heart – and you will do GREAT.

Now…I want to leave you with 2 helpful resources I have for parents that are FREE – all you have to do is download them! 

10 Things Your Kindergarten Teacher Really Wants You to Know Before They Go

#KINDERGARTENGOALS – A Checklist for Kindergarten Readiness

I want to send out a MASSIVE THANK YOU to these parents who readily said yes to sharing their best advice with other parents. If you missed Part 1 – be sure you read it! There's more helpful advice from parents there!

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Before you go – if you found me by way of kindergarten info…I'd love to share the other side of what I do with you – Kids Music for Kids! Get ready for an impromptu kitchen dance party! There's quite a bit of hidden socio-emotional goodness hidden in there – like sneaking in veggies at dinner! 😉

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