If you’ve got preschoolers at home like I do, the fact that you don’t have much longer to be with your little ones may be looming in the back of your mind. (They grow up so fast! *tear.) It may be scary to think of the littlest members of your family headed off to start their adventures in schooling; but it’s inevitable.

For many working parents, it can be all the more daunting to make sure your little one is ready for school given that the average US child spends upwards of 33 hours each week in the care of someone other than you. Can you count on your child care provider – be it a grandparent, or a friend – to do what they have to do to prepare your little one for Kindergarten? (Your girlfriend teaching your baby girl how to paint her toenails while she’s in her care may be cute, but is that really helping?)

That’s why around 40 YMCAs across the country have launched a FREE Early Learning Readiness Program for informal caregivers (ie: a friend, parent, or neighbor). They wanted to give these caregivers the chance to give young children a stimulating, preschool-like experience through the use of learning centers that foster development and improve school readiness.

These programs will ultimately support the skills and confidence of caregivers, and make the transition to school easier for children. It’s a win for everyone!

Kindergarten can be a wonderful and exciting experience for your little one, and preparing them for it can be stress free and fun if done the right way.

The YMCA has given me a few tips to share on how to prepare your child for kindergarten. Pass them along to your non-traditional childcare provider and feel confident knowing that you’re helping to set the stage to insure a smooth and easy transition for your child.

1. Play games that encourage alphabet recognition. Alphabet Go-Fish and refrigerator letters are fantastic for this.

2. Help your child with color recognition by talking about the colors that are all around them. Cookies, toys, and clothes provide great opportunities to introduce preschoolers to their colors.

There are also quite a few apps out made specifically for introducing young children to color.

3. Introduce counting to your little one by counting items you encounter throughout the day. Snacks like crackers, grapes, or carrots are easy to count and create great visuals. Counting out loud together can help tremendously with number recognition.

4. Teach children to write their name. You can make it fun by using finger paints, sugar or salt in a pan, shaving cream, or frosting. Mmmm.

5. Teach children how to express their feelings by role-playing different situations or scenarios. Did another child take your kid's toy? Role-play positive ways that your child can handle it.

6. Don't forget about play-dates. Give your little one the opportunity to interact regularly with other children their age in diverse settings and groups. Church, social groups, or playgrounds make for great play-date opportunities.

7. Read lots of books together. Work up to longer books as your little one gets older in order to develop good focus and attention skills.

8. Develop shape recognition and fine tune those motor skills by drawing and/or cutting out shapes like rectangles, squares or stars with your child. (Child-safe scissors of course.)

9. Talk about sounds that letters make and how they sound so they can begin to recognize words. Overemphasize the first letter in words to help your child hear the individual sounds that each letter makes.

10. Encourage your little one to draw with colored pencils, crayons or markers for improved motor skills.


For more information about enrolling in the Early Learning Readiness Program or general information about the Y’s commitment to families, visit


Did you have a full-proof method to help your child make the move into Kindergarten? Let me see it in the comments!



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