Get Ready for Kindergarten: Learning about Rules and Routines

Get Ready for Kindergarten: Learning about Rules and Routines

Parents often think that preparing their children for starting school just means practicing academic skills academic skills, like letters and numbers. But there are other skills that are equally important and will actually help your children to be better able to learn. These include the abilities to understand rules and routines. Kindergarten classes have lots of new routines for children to learn and there are also new rules, such as needing to raise your hand before you talk, and waiting your turn. If all of the children in a classroom were unable to follow rules, the result would be chaos. And it would be very hard for anyone to learn.

It can be hard for children to learn to wait and to follow rules. But there are fun ways to learn, too.   Here are some useful (and fun) activities to help your child get ready for school by getting used to following rules and routines:

  • Play games with rules – Simple board games have rules and the more your child can practice following those rules, the better. Games are also good for learning how to take turns, and how to handle disappointment. Talk with your child before you begin about what she can do if she doesn’t win this time. She can shrug her shoulders and say “oh, well” and try again. Games can also give your child opportunities to practice skills such as counting, memory, and color recognition. Some great games for kids include Candyland (for color recognition and counting), Hi Ho! Cherry-O (for counting), and Chutes and Ladders (for counting and handling disappointment).
  • Set up a bed time routine – If you don’t already have one, or if have let your routine go because it’s summer, work with your child to set up a bedtime routine now. Once school starts, your child is really going to need his sleep and having a consistent routine will help him to get it. It will also help him learn to follow a routine. Write down the routine and put it where that you and your child can easily see it. And make it rewarding to follow. So once your child has gotten into her pajamas by herself and brushed her teeth, let her pick out a book for you to read to her. (This will also help her prepare for learning to read.)
  • Work on waiting – Your child is likely to have to wait in kindergarten. He will wait in line, wait to be called on by the teacher, and wait for turns with materials and games. So make it a fun challenge now to help him to get into the habit of being able to wait patiently. For example, see how long your child can wait before starting to eat a favorite meal. You can make it a competition to see how long each family member can wait. It can also be helpful to teach your child things to do while she waits. For example, if she is standing in line at school, she can think about her favorite story. Or look out a window. Just having a couple of activities to choose from can help your child have a little more patience when waiting.

These are just a few simple activities that you can do with your child to help get ready for kindergarten. And these skills are not just important for kindergartners. So if your second-grader-to-be has trouble waiting for her turn, playing board games with her could help as well. By starting to work on these skills now, you can help your child to make a great start to the school year!

Image: © Dmitry Trubitsyn |


Katherine Pears
Dr. Katherine Pears is a senior scientist at Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC). She earned her Ph.D in clinical psychology and has worked with OSLC since 1998. Katherine is the principal investigator and co-developer of the Kids In Transition to Schools (KITS) program. Currently, she oversees all the clinical and research activities for KITS. When she’s not in her office, you’ll find Katherine in the kitchen whipping up her latest creation or outdoors hiking a scenic trail.


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