Entering kindergarten is an exciting yet intimidating experience for many young children and their families. In order to make sure your child is prepared for the transition, it's important to know what questions to ask a kindergarten teacher and your prospective school. It's important to get as much information as possible from educators and other parents, so you'll feel confident when your kiddo is posing with that “1st day of Kindergarten” sign on your porch. (cue the tears…can someone have the tissues ready?)
Some things you'll want to do Ahead of time
Plan a visit to the school or schools you are hoping to attend
Many schools will give prospective parents the opportunity to tour the campus and get to know the teachers and other staff members. Take advantage of this opportunity if it’s available, so you can get a better feel for the school environment. Also, don’t forget to bring your child! Even if they’re only able to observe shyly from your side for now, it’s important that your child is exposed to their future school as soon as possible.
Prepare your child for being away from home
Since kindergarten hours can be quite long, having your child practice being away from home is a great idea. Start by bringing them to playdates with friends or leaving them at short playgroups. You can also begin preparing them mentally by talking to them about school and why it’s important to go every day. Having a designated, consistent routine before and after school can also help make the transition easier.
Prepare YOURSELF for your child being away from home 😉
I often find that the child heading into kindergarten adjusts easier to this than the parents. If your child has been in a part-time or mother's day out type of preschool, then this will be a hard transition for some. Kindergarten is a full day of school, and you may have some big feelings over your little one making this step. (Word of advice – try not to place these big feelings on your kids. They need to see your smiling face and hear your words of encouragement at drop-off, so they can share a happy day with you at pick-up!)
Get your child ready for the day-to-day routine
A successful transition into kindergarten means preparing your child for day-to-day school life. Help your child by teaching them basic classroom etiquette and encouraging independent problem-solving. You can also help familiarize them with the idea of taking turns in conversation, following directions, participating in group activities, and learning to share with others.
Oh…and please, oh please, make sure they are INDEPENDENT in the BATHROOM. Not kidding.
Questions to Ask a kindergarten teacher
Ok, let's get to these important questions to ask a kindergarten teacher. Let's assume you know what school your child will be attending in the fall and you have met one or all of the kindergarten teachers on the team. These questions would be GREAT to be able to ask them. However, if you would rather wait until you know who your teacher will be, put these in your back pocket and pull them out when it's time.
At our school, we have an afternoon when the class lists are posted, and the kindergarteners meet their teachers. On this afternoon, new kindergarten parents often hang around and ask me some GREAT questions. I gladly answer them but also let them know we will have a “back-to-school” night where I will go a bit more into detail about things like how back-and-forth communication will work, etc.
1. When will my child be given an assessment for kindergarten readiness?
Kindergarten readiness questions are often asked way back in the spring when you are going through the kindergarten registration process. This, however, isn't always the case. The first district I taught in administered our assessment for kindergarten readiness during the first week of school. We led the incoming kindergarteners through some activities for kindergarten readiness to help us get a starting point and a better understanding of each child.
My current school conducts our assessment for kindergarten readiness in May before the new school year starts in August. We will meet each child and take them through an assessment that covers things like letter sounds, letter IDs, rhyming, beginning sounds, counting to 20, etc. However, more than academics, we are looking for things like can they separate from the parent easily, can they speak confidently, are they able to follow simple directions, etc.
You will want to ask your school or teacher when these assessments will take place. However, parents should not be stressed about them. They are an introduction for your teacher to meet your child and are filled with funny and sweet moments.
Still not certain what is involved with an assessment for kindergarten readiness? Not sure what questions to ask a kindergarten teacher? You gotta read this. This will dive much deeper into ALL you need to know.
You might like to read this! Here are questions that I hear ALL the time from soon-to-be-kindergarten parents!
2. In What ways will teachers communicate with parents?
Asking how teachers communicate with parents is extremely important and will vary from school to school and from teacher to teacher. Here are some examples of how I communicate with parents…how I will communicate. 🙂
- We have a class email list, and I will forward important information to them here, as well as send out a weekly email with the newsletter.
- I will email them for individual things.
- We have a daily folder that goes back and forth – and we often communicate about work here through sticky notes. Permission slips, doctors' notes, etc., go here.
- We have a parent app we use called Bloomz. This is where I post our weekly newsletter, along with reminders, pictures, and short videos of what's going on in our classroom.
- The newsletter itself focuses on events at school and what we will be focused on academically for that week.
Be sure you pay attention to the ways in which your kindergarten teacher will be communicating – and try your best to open emails, check folders nightly, or keep up with whatever form of communication they use.
3. what is the kindergarten daily schedule?
Knowing the school schedule ahead of time can help your child feel more comfortable on their first day. The typical kindergarten class meets from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., though the exact times may vary by school and district. Teach your child to recognize when it’s time for indoor activities, outdoor activities, recess, lunchtime, etc., so they know what’s coming next throughout the day.
One of the most important things you can do at home to help prep your child for their day-to-day is to start to implement a routine at home prior to starting school. I promise you little things like this can make or break a five-year-old's ability to adjust well to kindergarten. For more behind-the-scenes and a deeper dive into this topic, you should probably download this free pdf and get a fuller picture!
4. What are the school's policies and procedures?
Before the first day of school, review the school’s policies and procedures. Understand the expectations when it comes to drop-off and pickup times and how the school handles lunchtime and recess. See if there are any fun programs that are part of your child's kindergarten curriculum.
A MUST-ASK question: What is the school calendar, and how does your school handle absences? Be sure to check with your teacher to see how they will handle making up work when it is missed and what absences they will excuse and not excuse.
A common misconception is that kindergarten is not ‘real school' – so if a vacation is planned, no big deal if school is missed. People, hear me when I say, “KINDERGARTEN IS REAL SCHOOL. IT COUNTS. GET THE CALENDAR BEFORE YOU PLAN A TRIP.”
A bonus tip: Don't ever say to your kindergarten teacher, “It's ONLY kindergarten.” Kindergarten is the new 1st grade. It's real school.
5. What are the classroom rules in kindergarten?
I think it is important to ask your teacher about the classroom rules for kindergarten.
- What will the expectations be?
- Is there a school-wide behavior system?
- How will you be kept in the know about your child's behavior?
- Does the school focus on positive behavior?
- What are the consequences for things like poor behavior, not following the rules, etc.
The more you understand about the inner workings of your child's kindergarten classroom, the better you can help support them when things come up throughout the year.
These important questions to ask a kindergarten teacher should get you well on your way to becoming informed and confident as you make this exciting step with your child into kindergarten. If you have any questions or would like any more detail about something I touched on here, leave a comment or send me a message! I'd love to hear from you.
So you've heard from the teacher…now it's time to hear from the PARENTS. This two-part post is full of helpful advice and perspectives from parents who have very recently gone through the kindergarten experience for the first time. READ IT NOW!
For more information, try reading this: “Honest Answers to 5 of the Most Asked Kindergarten Readiness Questions.”