Ready for Kindergarten: 3 Simple Ways to Work on Independence and Responsibility at Home

Your child’s new kindergarten routine will require personal responsibility, new listening skills, and the ability to finish tasks. If children haven’t been used to taking ownership of simple tasks at home, school can be overwhelming for them as they adjust.

The good news is that summer is a great time to begin practicing!

Young children actually take great pride in being able to do things by themselves. They are usually able to take on more responsibility than you think; it’s simply a matter of giving them opportunities to practice.

Though it might be quicker and less stressful for you to help them get on their shoes, hang up their bag, or clean up their dishes, children need to learn to take ownership of tasks if they’re going to become independent. If you can be patient and persistent during these weeks leading up to kindergarten, you’ll have a child who is confident and ready for the new opportunities of school!

Here are 3 simple ways you can teach your child to become more responsible and independent this summer:

1. Give them small responsibilities at home every day.

Many kids begin kindergarten expecting their teachers to do things for them. While this may work at home, it’s not possible in a classroom with 20 kids. Helping your child gain independence doesn’t just prepare them for kindergarten; it prepares them for life by giving them the confidence to take on new challenges.

Here are some everyday ideas to get started:

– Bringing in groceries from the car

– Putting away laundry

– Taking their dishes to the sink

It’s also important for them to be confident with basic hygiene skills:

– Wiping their own nose

– Using the restroom independently

– Washing and drying hands without help

These may seem unrelated to kindergarten. But if a child can’t take responsibility for simple tasks at home, it will be extra challenging when they’re expected to hang up their backpack each day, put their papers in a folder, clean up their centers, use the restroom without help, and keep track of their school supplies during the day.

Though your child may resist at first, before long you will see him swell with pride as he learns to help the family in meaningful ways. Giving children daily responsibilities helps them gain the independence they will need to be ready for kindergarten!


2. Use “directional” words.

Words like above, after, front, before, middle, behind, under, between, top, are called “directional words.”

Here are three reasons that directional words are important for kindergarten:

  1. Your kindergartener will be hearing them many times throughout the day and will need to know what they mean.

“Hang your backpack on the hook under your cubby.”

“Write your name at the top of the paper.”

“Stand behind Adam in line.”

  1. Learning many of these words ahead of time will help your child to communicate more precisely.
  2. In kindergarten, your child will learn many “sight words.” Sight words are words that children memorize simply by looking at them. Many kindergarten sight words are directional words.


There are countless ways you can use directional words at home and prepare them for kindergarten:

“I’m putting peanut butter between these two slices of bread.”

“Please put this bowl in the cabinet above the silverware drawer.”

“You may have this book after you buckle your car seat.”

If they don’t know what a word means, you can take a moment to explain it. Then they will have a new word in their word bank!


3. Teach them to finish tasks.

Just like adults, some children naturally like to finish tasks before they begin something else. Other children are prone to move on to something more interesting before they finish what they began just five minutes ago.

Kindergarteners won’t be expected to sit at a desk and work for long periods of time on one task. But they will need to learn how to finish one task before they move on to the next center or activity.

If your child struggles to finish one activity or task before they move on to another one, now is the time to help them become “finishers.” Start small so they don’t become overwhelmed and have an emotional meltdown.

Here are some everyday ideas:

– “Put away your toys before you can watch a show.”

– “Let’s finish this book before we start another one.”

– “Help me finish cleaning the kitchen before we have dessert.”

If you use these simple ideas this summer, you’ll have a kindergartener who has learned the basics of responsibility, listening, and finishing! Their confidence will grow as they realize they can handle new challenges. And your confidence will grow as you realize you’re the one who got them there.


This is the fourth post of a summer series that will help your child get ready for kindergarten. Thanks for sharing with other parents of rising kindergartners who may benefit!

You’ll also enjoy the other posts in this series:

6 Ways to Help Your Child FEEL Ready for Kindergarten (week 1)

5 Simple Ways to Turn Everyday Moments into Learning Opportunities for Kindergarten (week 2)

5 Simple Ways YOU Can Help Your Kindergartener Learn to Love Books (week 3)


Originally posted by First Steps South Carolina. Republished by First Steps Pickens County with permission.



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