Before the First Day of Kindergarten


Tips for Starting Preschool or Kindergarten

As children and families get ready to start a new school year, it can be helpful to talk to your child about what to expect at preschool or kindergarten. Here are some things to consider:


  • Before the first day of school, familiarize your child with the school, the teacher, the room and even the bathrooms. Contact your local school to set up a visit before school ends for the year.
  • If possible, introduce your child to other children who will be in the same class.
  • Take your child to play on the school’s playground. Many Oak Park elementary schools have informal playgroups for incoming kindergarteners on Sunday afternoons at the school playground.
  • Talk to your child about how he or she will get to and from school. If possible, practice the commute before school starts.
  • Find out from families or teachers how your school handles lunch time and talk to your child about what they may expect during lunch. For example, let your child practice opening open his/her own juice box or milk.
  • Develop daily school routines, including consistent wake-up times and bedtimes.
  • Turn off screens (TV, tablets, cell phones, etc.) 2 hours before bedtime. This allows your child’s brain to prepare for bedtime.
  • Help your child become independent. For example, have them keep track of their own things and put on their own clothes and shoes as appropriate for their age. Don’t send them to school in clothes they aren’t comfortable in (or with shoes they can’t tie by themselves).
  • Be sure your child is well rested and well fed. Throughout the summer, free meals are available to all children 18 and under.
  • Reassure your child that it’s OK to feel nervous about new things. Be supportive during the transition and let them know that they will get used to their new experience soon.
  • Read books about starting school. Visit your local library and ask for suggestions.
  • Make sure you have completed the health requirements for Kindergarten:
    • Physical exam
    • Dental exam
    • Eye exam
    • All required immunizations
  • Ask your child’s pediatrician or schedule an appointment at Children’s Clinic, sponsored by the Oak Park River Forest Infant Welfare Society to make sure your child has all the completed health requirements.
  • Visit our Pinterest Board for more ideas and resources on making a smooth transition.

Children must be 5 years old by September 1st in order to start kindergarten. Registration typically begins during these times and is ongoing:

To register your child, you will need proof of residency — such as a lease agreement, mortgage statement, and utility bills — and your child’s birth certificate. Contact your local school district for more details.

Oak Park and Forest Park school districts have full-day kindergarten. River Forest currently offers half-day kindergarten.

Oak Park District 97 asks all incoming kindergarteners to participate in a Kindergarten Readiness Screening. This screening does not affect a child’s ability to enroll in kindergarten. Rather, it helps teachers get a snapshot of each child’s readiness to learn. Screenings last about 90 minutes and include both the test, as well as a meeting with the child’s parents/guardians. Call the District 97 office (708-524-3000) for more information or to make an appointment.

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