Get Ready for Kindergarten with Practical Tips, Tricks, and Tools

From ABCs to empathy, kids need all sorts of skills to start school. We can help!

If you're spending the waning days of summer prepping your kindergarten-bound kid for the first days of school, you're not alone. Kindergarten is a formative year for families, as kids acquire the foundational skills they'll build on for a lifetime (and parents learn the value of healthy home habits and encouraging independence). Here are some handy tricks and tools to help your kindergartners -- and you -- get ready for the school year.

Arm Kids with Soft Skills
Ease your kids' entry into the early days of their educations by helping them develop and refine essential "soft skills." From encouraging them to get along with others to supporting their ability to self-regulate, these six skills are important building blocks to having a successful school year.

Nurture Responsibility
Time-management tools can motivate kids and help them develop responsibility, organization, and independence. There are lots of handy apps to help keep kids on track, and these 7 lifesavers are even designed to help little kids with morning routines.

Share Stories About School
Lots of kids are excited about stepping into their big-kid shoes for kindergarten, but the transition isn't always seamless. Sweet stories about kids going to kindergarten and funny back-to-school movies can soothe and entertain nervous students -- and their parents.

Skip the Back-to-School Buying Frenzy
Don't turn your kindergartner into a walking advertisement. Learn how to avoid the rampant marketing and consumerism of the back-to-school culture. And when you shop for school supplies, consider stocking a backpack for a kid in need or organizing a school supply drive -- you can teach your tot about sharing while you're at it. 

Build Healthy Habits at Home
Remember, your kindergartner will learn more from you than any textbook. By managing morning TV and nurturing a lifelong love of reading, now's your chance to establish rules around screen time. And don't forget to practice moderation of your own by establishing device-free dinners and a few other phone-free zones.

Use Learning Tools to Boost Skills
Fun teaching tools can help kids develop and refine the essential skills they're working on in the classroom. Need some suggestions? These five stellar apps were recommended by a kindergarten teacher to help incoming students build math and reading skills before the start of the year. 

Get Involved 
Take an active role in your children's early education. Talk to the teacher about your kids' challenges, as well as the activities at which they excel. Help at home by sharing educational tools designed specifically to enhance pre-K skills. Fun apps and games can offer an extra boost to nurture young interests and developing social-emotional skills -- and kids won't even realize they're learning.