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Are You Kinder or TK Ready? Teachers Share Top 10 Tips for Incoming Families

Are You Kinder or TK Ready? Teachers Share Top 10 Tips for Incoming Families

Elementary school is an exciting place for young children entering kindergarten and transitional kindergarten (TK). A bigger environment with new faces and new routines...and so much to learn. Students enter wide-eyed and eager, however they (and their families) might have some anxious feelings about starting school.

We spoke with some of our Redwood City School District (RCSD) teachers about the Top 10 things they want to share about preparing for this new experience with your children. They had a lot to say!

Read, Read, Read 

Reading should happen every day as it develops pre skills that children will use for their lives. Ask questions as you read together and encourage them to look for clues in a picture book about the story. 

Make School Connections

Plan to come to orientation, “back to school” night, or other events which give children and families an opportunity to meet with teachers and see the campus. Find out where things are on campus. Sign up for newsletters, and other communication resources to stay engaged. Look for chances to make playdates with classmates to strengthen relationships with the school family.

“It’s important to work on relationships with the teacher and classmates.” Rueilian Kao, Kindergarten Teacher at Mandarin Immersion

Turn off the Tech

One of the best things for young children is to make time for good conversations. Be sure to make space for time without a tablet, phone, or TV.


Practice school day routines such as wake up time, getting dressed independently, and being prepared in the morning for a couple weeks before school begins. Practice and keep up with that routine during the school year whenever possible.

Be Ready for Feelings

Students and families may shed some tears the first few days of school and being scared about separation is natural. Learn to talk through those feelings and try not to be anxious if children are upset about coming to a new place.

“I want parents to be comfortable and know their child will be well taken care of. We need to work through the emotions. Parents shouldn’t be anxious.” Marisa Selfa, Kindergarten Teacher at Garfield School

“It is ok to share feelings and stay positive. We can acknowledge mixed feelings too.” Rueilian Kao, Kindergarten Teacher at Mandarin Immersion

“Talk to children about what they feel--what they are excited about, what they are nervous about. Talk about what to expect.” Marisa Selfa, Kindergarten Teacher at Garfield School

Play Time is Learning

Children need time outside to exercise and move their muscles just as much as they need academic time. Both areas are important.

“Let them be a kid! We will build a foundation for classroom learning but get them outside playing!” --Amy Barstad, Kindergarten Teacher at Henry Ford School


Give children jobs at home and build on their successes. When they come to school they will know how to be responsible for themselves and their things. Show them how to take care of those things like putting things in a backpack or opening their lunchbox.

“Help children learn responsibility. They will take ownership of themselves and their things at school” --Amy Barstad, Kindergarten Teacher at Henry Ford School

Expression and Wellbeing

Encourage them to be able to express needs and wants outside of home so they can communicate well with other adults like their teachers. Social and emotional wellbeing is uplifted when children understand their feelings and can share them.

“Getting children talking is so important” --Amy Barstad, Kindergarten Teacher at Henry Ford School

Mistakes Happen

Let children make mistakes--it’s a way to learn. Things don’t need to be perfect and children need to explore problem solving.

“Parents and children don’t need to worry about making mistakes. Everybody is different and learning at a different pace--they will get there.” Rueilian Kao, Kindergarten Teacher at Mandarin Immersion

Learning Takes Time

ABCs and 123s are foundational skills that take time to acquire. Avoid stressing if a child doesn’t know it all at once or right away. Academics are practiced every day and children learn at different paces.

“We’re going to take it slow. We’re going to work at their pace. But we will learn all the letters.” Marisa Selfa, Kindergarten Teacher at Garfield School

Update: Since we first published this story, teacher Marisa Selfa has transferred to Adelante Selby Spanish Immersion School. She continues to teach our young learners in Kindergarten!