Skills for Success in Kindergarten

ASK THE EXPERTS by Dorothy Heitjan, Deb Kraft and Kristen DeVooght

Q. How can we as parents help our preschooler make a successful transition into Kindergarten?

It is vital in the preschool years to provide your child with the experiences that will build the foundation for later success in school. Keep in mind the amazing developmental changes that occur in a child's body and brain during the preschool years.

In order to help your child build these neural connections, parents should provide:

  • A variety of hands on experiences-dig in the dirt, cook, build, paint, sculpt. These types of activities foster curiosity, eye-hand coordination, spatial relationships, and vocabulary development.
  • Time to read. Make reading part of your daily life. This is important because it helps to build your child's vocabulary and ability to recognize words.
  • Unstructured time to move and use the body-play on the playground, jump, swing, run. Using the body not only promotes the essential skill of body awareness which is needed for understanding right vs. left, but also understanding of prepositional concepts.
  • Use toys that encourage imagination or thinking - plain blocks, old clothes for dressing up. This is important for development of social language and imagination.
  • Attend preschool, library story hour, or church where your child will learn and practice common social courtesies, such as turn taking, listening, and responding to a question.
  • Recite and recognize upper and lower case alphabet letters.
  • Count to 20 orally. Count number of objects to 10. Identify numerals to 12.
  • Write name. Hold pencil correctly in 2 finger pinch grip. Use upper and lower case letters. Write letter from top down or from the c position. Ex. Ben
  • Limit screen time-TV, computer, hand held devices. Less time looking at a screen means more time engaging in real life interactions which teach a multitude of skills!
  • Establish a good home routine - healthy meals and snacks, set bedtimes. School is all about routines. Important for Kindergarten and beyond!

Kindergarten bridges preschool to elementary school. Your child moves from dependence on others and working one-on-one with parents and preschool staff to independence and working together with peers in small and large groups with one teacher.

Excellent kindergarten programs address the social and emotional as well as the academic needs of your child. They provide opportunities for your child to play and learn in structured and unstructured situations. Kindergarten provides hands-on experiences to enable your child to connect what they already know to their new learning.

Expectations for kindergarten students have changed drastically in the last ten years. First grade skills are now the standard for kindergarten. Former kindergarten skills are the standard for preschool.

The new national Common Core State Standards include reading and writing, sight word knowledge as well as emergent spelling skills. Knowing what a word and even what a sentence looks like in a story as well as reading and writing their own words and thoughts are expectations.

There are also new Common Core Standards for math and others in the works for social studies and science.

Our students will recognize characteristics and patterns, know numerals to 100, count by twos and fives to thirty, understand tens and ones, and express story equations with drawings and numbers. They must be able to use mathematical data, understand its use in everyday life, and express the data in mathematical form.

Our students will also be using technology for learning and for testing.

These expectations require your child to be ready to learn in a school environment. Their ability to listen to explanations and then use the information is vital for success. These abilities are directly related to their developmental readiness and maturity.

Grosse Pointe Public and Harper Woods Public Schools now provide full day kindergarten programs to meet many of these needs. Enroll your child at your school district's administrative offices. You will need to provide a birth certificate, immunization records and physical examination forms (in September), and proof of residency. You should enroll your child as early as possible. By enrolling your child, you are placed on the public school mailing list and will receive important information by mail.

When enrolling your child, you may have to choose between programs. Current Kindergarten programs include the traditional half-day program as well as all-day programs (ADK) or extended day programs (EDK).

Until then, enjoy talking, playing, riding, cooking, building, and exploring with your child every day!

Save The Date

Kindergarten: Get Ready!! Core Curriculum

presented by The Family Center

Thursday, November 21, 2013, 6:30-8:30pm
Barnes Early Childhood Center, 20090 Morningside Dr., Grosse Pointe Woods.

Grosse Pointe Public School System presenters: Deb Kraft, Kindergarten Teacher; Dorothy Heitjan, Early Childhood Program Teacher and Speech-Language Pathologist; and Kristen DeVooght Speech-Language Pathologist.

Register Early online at! Or contact The Family Center at 313.432.3832 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Enriched Communities Through Stronger Families
The Family Center serves as the community's hub for information, resources and referral for both families and professionals. The Family Center is a non-profit organization founded to promote a deeper understanding of the role of parents and others in supporting our youth to become competent, caring and responsible community members.

All gifts are tax-deductible.
To volunteer or contribute, visit, call (313) 432.3832.
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or write to: The Family Center
20090 Morningside Drive, Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236.

Enriching Our Community Through Stronger Families
The Family Center serves as the community's hub for information, resources and referral for both families and professionals. The Family Center is a non-profit organization founded with a mission to serve our community through programs and resources vital to today's families.

All gifts are tax-deductible.
To volunteer or contribute, visit the 'Get Involved' page, call 313-447-1374.
Email: or write to: The Family Center
32 Lake Shore Drive, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236.