Calming Your Kindergarten Fears: What Your Child’s Teacher Expects

The dreaded month of August is here and at our house that means only one thing: summer is officially O-V-E-R! Our house is a two-teacher household so August is the month that we start preparing our classrooms, adjusting our sleep schedules, and we begin getting our minds back into work-mode.

This month many families are also preparing for the start of the school year. Shopping for school supplies, getting new fall clothes, and going to bed a little earlier always top the to-do list in August. For parents of preschoolers and kindergarteners, their to-do list may also contain talking to their child about what to expect at school and a reminder to themselves to not be nervous about their child now being at school all day.Kindergarten Expectations 1

Parents nervous? Shouldn’t the child be nervous and not the parents? Having taught kindergarten for many years now, I have seen the full spectrum of parents. From crying and not wanting to stop taking pictures on the first day of school all the way to practically skipping down the hallway because their last child has finally started school. We call it a “Boo-hoo/Yahoo” moment in the teacher world.

In order to ease the minds of many first time kindergarten parents, I have created a list of what teachers are looking for your child to be able to do as the school year begins.

I surveyed a few of my closest teacher friends and gathered all their expectations. After reviewing everyone’s list, I found that they all had similar expectations for the start of the school year.

The academic expectations have clearly changed since many of us were in preschool and kindergarten, but don’t let that intimidate you. The social and behavioral expectations are still the same as they have always been and if your child is beginning to grasp those concepts, then they are already well on their way to a successful start!

Ten Expectations for Incoming Kindergarteners

Here is a list of what most kindergarten teachers are looking for at the very beginning of the school year, as compiled from a few of the best teachers I know. They are in no particular order as they are all equally important.

  1. Be able to sit and attend to a short story or book.
  2. Quickly adjust to being away from their parents for an extended period of time.
  3. Smoothly transition from one activity to the next with little or no adult support.
  4. Be able to play and share with others in socially appropriate ways.
  5. Follow one and two-step directions with little or no adult support.
  6. Be independent or become independent with bathroom skills and washing hands.
  7. Recognize their own name in print and/or write their first name.
  8. Understand that there is a difference between letters and numbers.
  9. Recognize and/or write some letters of the alphabet.
  10. Recognize some numbers and/or possibly count to 10.

Now, if your child can’t do all 10 of these things, DO NOT PANIC! That is what school is for! Our job as teachers is to help your child become successful with these concepts. Across the school year, you will begin to see so much growth in your child and you will be amazed at the skills that they will begin to master. The preschool and kindergarten years are huge milestone years for children and when you present a challenge to kids in that age group, they seem to always rise to the occasion.

Kindergarten Expectations 2

Seeing each child grow, learn, and spread their wings is one of my favorite aspects of teaching. I have yet to teach a child that did not impress me with the amount of new things they learned across the school year (even if what they made progress with was a tiny thing). Every accomplishment is a huge deal in my classroom!

As the first day approaches, remind yourself that we teachers understand the tears and the joy that comes with sending your child off to school. Have trust in your child’s teacher and know that they are there to do what is best for your child. It’s okay to be nervous for your child, but know that we are excited to have your child in our classroom and we can’t wait to see the growth that your child will make.

Here’s to great start to the school year and may you and your child enjoy all of the milestones that the first year of school brings!


Melissa was born and raised right here in Iowa. Although she grew up in southwest Iowa (about as close to Missouri and Nebraska as you can get!), she has called eastern Iowa home for 15 years. She and her husband Eric live in North Liberty, along with their 4 year-old daughter Kennedy. Melissa attended the University of Northern Iowa where she earned her BA in Early Childhood Special Education and her MAE in K-6 Learning Disabilities. She currently teaches kindergarten for the Clear Creek Amana School District, where she has taught for 14 years. In her spare time, Melissa loves to be outside playing or working on projects in their yard, spending time with family and friends, and baking up goodies for her family. She also enjoys taking walks with their two dogs, plump beagle Lenny and shy dachshund-beagle mix Cooper. Life as a full-time working mommy keeps her very busy, but Melissa wouldn't have it any other way!


  1. Melissa, your post was just what I needed as I prepare to send A to kindergarten! Thanks for the expert advice and for easing my nerves and heart!

  2. So glad I could help Sherri! I was asked so many questions this summer from parents (that know I teach) about all things school related. I decided that maybe it would help some of the parents out there if I could ease some of their anxiety, even if it just helped a little bit. Your daughter will do great and she will have so much fun at school!


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