Is it just me, or has early education become too stressful? Some moms have their kids on wait lists for top preschools by the time they’re getting their first tooth. Yikes!

As a mom, you constantly worry about what’s best for your child. You want to give them the tools they need to succeed. This is especially true when it comes to education.

But seriously, do kids really need special skills to succeed in kindergarten? I remember singing songs and making things out of play dough, and I turned out okay.

We reached out to some kindergarten teachers to get their thoughts on the matter, and came up with a list of six traits they say will actually help your child succeed in kindergarten. (Spoiler alert – you can teach these skills at home, no high tech gear or elite preschool required).

#1 Make Choices

The first year of school can be overwhelming to a child that has never learned how to decide at home. One of the best things you can do for your kids to succeed in kindergarten is to teach them to make simple decisions, before they start school.

What do they want to play at recess? Which books do they want to read? What color will they paint with? These are all choices a kindergartener may face. If they’ve been taught autonomy at home, they’ll be prepared to decide in class.

Get started now! Let your child pick out what they want to wear, or what story you’ll read to them tonight. Children that learn to make meaningful choices from a couple of options will be able to easily transfer this skill into the classroom.

#2 Listen And Pay Attention

In a classroom setting, students are expected to pay attention for extended periods of time. They also need to listen and be able to comprehend directions and lessons spoken by the teacher. The best way to give your kids a leg up in this area is to read aloud with them, on a regular basis.

Teachers expect parents to read to their kids at home. They can generally tell which kids are exposed to books and which ones aren’t. Reading helps kids develop language, comprehension, and the attention skills they need to succeed in a scholastic environment.

It’s such an easy thing parents can do with their little ones and the rewards are measurable. Be sure to ask your child questions as you read, which helps focus their attention and promotes critical thinking. You can even start sounding out simple words and rhyming with your child to further develop their oral language skills.

#3 Self-Advocacy

Everyone knows a child that gets what they want through whining and tantrums. These habits do not work well in a school setting. Don’t let this be your kid!

Children need to learn how to state what they want and need in a polite, clear way using good manners. Model this behavior for your kids. Teach them to use phrases such as “No thank you” and “Yes, please” before they enter the classroom. It will go a long way.

#4 Play Well With Others

Until now, you’ve probably been able to protect your child from serious disappointment, but with kindergarten comes their first foray into the real world. In school, no student gets their way all the time. A lot of time is spent waiting for another student to finish before they can take their turn.  

This is especially true in schools with larger class sizes. Sportsmanship, patience, and the understanding that life isn’t always fair are all important things to teach your child before they enter kindergarten to increase their success.

On play dates, help your child problem solve if you see them get into a conflict they can’t work out. Ask them, “What can we do about this?” and provide some options. Also, get your kids in the habit of thinking about how other children feel when they do or say things to encourage empathy.

#5 Independence

Teachers are there to teach curriculum and start your child’s educational career in a positive way. They are not there to button coats, hang up jackets, or put lunch boxes away. Teach your child basic dressing and cleaning skills so they’re able to care of themselves and their belongings.

The student that can quickly put on their jacket, hat and gloves has more time to engage in the classroom and play with friends during recess. Kids that can wash their own hands, unfasten their own buttons, and stick a straw in their own juice box are not required to wait for the teacher to help.

#6 Curiosity

 Lastly, teachers love kids that are enthusiastic about learning. How do you encourage this trait? Teach your child to be curious.

Spend time with your kids investigating their surroundings. Let them ask the MILLION questions they are apt to ask and dedicate some time to coming up with answers. Let them test out their own theories about how the world works. They’ll want to keep exploring!

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

Finally, don’t panic if your child hasn’t mastered all of these traits perfectly by the first day of school. Many of the characteristics to succeed in kindergarten are a work in progress, and your kids will continue to develop as they learn. Keep encouraging and emphasizing these traits at home and address any learning or behavioral problems quickly. Your child will likely to thrive in school as a result!