School Readiness

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Pennino Building, 12011 Government Center Parkway, Suite 920
Fairfax, VA 22035
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Stepping Into Kindergarten

Stepping Into KindergartenStepping Into Kindergarten
A School Readiness Guide for Families


If your child will be 5 years old by September 30, they will soon be starting kindergarten. This guide will give you some ideas about what you can do during the year before your child enters kindergarten to assure they are ready to “Step into Kindergarten.” 
The guide also includes steps you can take during this year so your child is properly registered for kindergarten.
Finally, it has information about school and community resources to help build your child’s kindergarten readiness skills.


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Good Communication Begins at Home

In kindergarten, your child will be talking with others throughout the day. Your child will need to: 

  • Communicate their needs and wants. 
  • Describe different people, places, objects and events. 
  • Share something that happened during the day or the day before. 
  • Engage in cooperative play. 

When you and your child talk in your home language, you are building communication skills. 

  • Talk with your child about what you are doing and what they are doing.
  • Ask questions about what happened during a game or on a visit with a friend. 
  • Ask about what happened first, next and last. 
  • Ask your child to include details that describe objects and actions. 
  • Ask your child to follow simple directions.
  • Ask your child to predict what will happen next.

Routines Help Prepare Your Child to be Ready for Kindergarten

Having routines at home will help prepare your child to follow routines in kindergarten.

  • Set a regular morning schedule (wake up, dress, eat, go to preschool or plan the day).
  • Make sure breakfast is part of the morning routine.
  • Have meals and snack times at about the same time.
  • Schedule physical activities.
  • Schedule when screen time will be allowed.
  • Plan transitions from one activity to another.
  • Set out supplies for the next day.
  • Plan time for reading every day.
  • Set a regular bedtime routine.

Getting Along With Others

Getting along with others is a skill that makes the transition to kindergarten easier for children. Children who can get along with others know how to: 

  • Spend time with other children and adults. 
  • Play cooperatively and take turns.
  • Share toys.
  • Solve problems with words.
  • Respect people and property.
  • Ask for help.
  • Make friends.
  • Talk about their feelings.
  • Use words like please, thank you, excuse me, I’m sorry, I need help, I can try it.
  • Follow simple directions.
  • Separate from you and other family members.




Set a regular bedtime routine to ensure your child is getting enough sleep. Most young children need 10 to 13 hours of sleep. Your child will not have naptime in kindergarten.

ExerciseBoy Exercising on jungle gym

Make regular physical activity a part of your family routine. Play games that encourage activities like running, climbing, throwing, jumping, kicking a ball, balancing on one foot, swinging on a swing.

Good Nutrition

Have your child help you make healthy snacks and meals. Encourage your child to choose a new food to try each week. In kindergarten, your child can bring their own lunch from home or make their own food choices in the cafeteria.

Screen Time

Talk about what they are seeing on the screens (computers, iPads, TV). Set a limit on screen time, especially before bed time.

Emotional Development and Self-Regulation

Discuss and be consistent with rules and consequences. Help you child understand making mistakes is part of learning. Encourage them to keep trying even when it is hard. Encourage your child to find multiple solutions to a problem. Help them to plan, focus and remember. 

Some Great Books for
“A is for Autumn” 
by Robert Maass
“Leaf Man” 
by Lois Ehlert
“It’s Fall!”
 by Linda Glaser 
“Sixteen Runaway Pumpkins” 
by Dianne Ochiltree
“Dappled Apples” 
by Jan Carr 
“Turkey Trouble” 
by Wendi Silvano
“How to Build a Snow Bear”
by Eric Pinder
“Over and Under the Snow”
by Kate Messner
“The Snow Dancer”
by Addie K. Boswell
by Lois Ehlert
“The Snowy Day”
by Ezra Jack Keats  
“It’s Spring!” 
by Linda Glaser 
by Denise Fleming
“In the Garden with Dr. Carver”
by Susan Grigsby
“So Many Circles, So Many Squares”
by Tana Hoban
“Rosie’s Walk” 
by Pat Hutchins  
“Planting a Rainbow”
by Lois Ehlert
“Beetle Bop” 
by Denise Fleming
“The Kissing Hand” 
by Audrey Penn
“One, Two Grandma 
Loves You”
by Shelly Becker
“Yoko Writes her Name”
by Rosemary Wells
“Actual Size”
by Steve Jenkins
“How Do Dinosaurs 
Go to School?”
by Jane Yolen
“School Bus”
by Donald Crews
“Countdown to 
by Alison McGhee

If you have concerns about your child’s development, call Fairfax County Public Early Childhood Identification and Services, 571-423-4121. They will provide information about interventions, workshops, screening and evaluations. These “Child Find” services are provided for children ages 20 months through five years.

Throughout the Year 

  • Sing songs and tell and retell stories.
  • Read books. Discuss what is happening. 
  • Look for the letters in your child’s name. 
  • Help your child notice words that rhyme or start with the same sound. 
  • Work on puzzles.
  • Play simple board games.
  • Use markers, crayons and pencils to draw pictures. 
  • Practice using scissors. 
  • Play sorting and counting games. 
  • Count and use numbers.
  • Encourage your child to use color, shape and size words when describing objects.
  • Play physically active games.
  • Play games where your child must stand 
  • or sit quietly.
  • Visit the library regularly. Help your child choose books.
  • Encourage your child to ask questions.

Fall (September - November)

  • Take family walks together to look for signs of fall. 
  • Search for squirrels burying nuts, geese flying overhead and leaves changing colors. Talk about the changes in the weather. 
  • Teach your child to put on and take off their coat and practice buttoning and/or zipping.

Winter (December - February)

Registration for Kindergarten 

  • Use the Fairfax County Public Schools Boundary Information System to determine where your child will attend kindergarten.
  • Visit that elementary school.
  • Begin to gather the documents you need to register your child for kindergarten. These include proof of residency, birth certificate, and health and immunization records. Registration procedures and forms are available at or you can pick up a registration packet at any Fairfax County elementary school. 
  • Contact your local elementary school to find the dates for any kindergarten registration and kindergarten orientation events.
  • Plan to attend a kindergarten readiness workshop in your community.
  • Contact your early childhood education programs to see if a “Transition to Kindergarten” event is planned for families.
  • If you will need before and after school care, contact Fairfax County School Age Child Care  or use the Office for Children’s “Child Care Search” tool. 
Activities With Your Child
  • Bundle up and spend some family time outdoors. 
  • Talk about the changes your child sees in the environment. Look for trees that have lost their leaves and ones that are still green. Look for berries and pine cones.
  • Find time every day to share a book together. Share books with stories about winter. Talk with your child about favorite stories you have read.

Spring (March - May)

Registration for Kindergarten 

  • Arrange an appointment with your pediatrician or health clinic. 
  • Complete all registration paperwork and turn it in to your local elementary school. 
  • Attend kindergarten orientation programs that are scheduled at your neighborhood elementary school. 
  • Sign an exchange of information form to allow your early childhood program to share information with the elementary school your child will attend.
  • “Like” or “Follow” the Facebook page of the school your child will be attending. Follow the school on Twitter.
  • Register to receive Fairfax County Public Schools: News You Choose to get regular updates from the school. To subscribe, visit the FCPS Subscriber Preferences Page and provide an email address. Select TOPIC. Select ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS. Select a school.

More Activities With Your Child

  • Start talking with your child about kindergarten. 
  • Ask the librarian to recommend books about starting kindergarten.
  • See if you can schedule a visit to the school with your child and visit a kindergarten room.
  • Visit the school playground.
  • See if someone will let your child see the inside of a bus.
  • Visit places in your community like the fire or police station, the post office, or the farmers market. 
  • Make a grocery list with your child. Have them find those items at the store.  

Summer (June - August)

Transition to Kindergarten 

  • Write a letter to the school introducing your child.
  • Visit the school's website often and watch for information about "Back to School" events.
  • Visit your child’s elementary school throughout the summer. 
  • Plan play times with other children who will attend the same school. 
  • Choose the place at home where you will keep your child’s kindergarten supplies, such as their backpack and library books.

More Activities With Your Child

  • Your child should know their full name and what it looks like in print. If they go by a nickname or other name, they need to also know their birth name.
  • Have your child practice eating independently (open juice boxes etc.).
  • Buy clothes that are easy to put on and take off.
  • Review safety rules such as walk on the sidewalk and don’t cross the street without a grown-up. 


(in minutes)
Part of Day
10-15 Arrival/Breakfast/Networking
20 Morning Meeting
25-30 Reading Workshop
45-50 Word Study and Literacy Stations
40-45 Writing Workshop
15 Recess
30 Lunch
10 Reflection/Processing Time
55 Math Workshop
60 Specials
15 Recess
40 Science/Social Studies/Health
25 Choice Time
10 Closing Circle/Dismissal

Every kindergarten class is different, but all kindergarten classes allow children to take part in whole group, small group and individual learning experiences throughout the day. To the right is a sample kindergarten schedule. 

Children will have an easier transition to kindergarten if they are: 

  • Problem solvers.
  • Comfortable in new environments.
  • Decision makers.
  • Curious.
  • Risk takers.
  • Good communicators.

girl painting

Fairfax County Public Libraries

Each library branch has a special section of children’s books designed to build your child’s imagination and early literacy skills. Up to 50 books can be borrowed for three weeks at a time. Books are available in several languages. Special activities and story times are offered throughout the year for preschool and school-age children. The monthly “Ready to Read” newsletter available on the library website provides great ideas for books to read to your child.

Fairfax County Park Authority

Enjoyable classes for preschoolers are available in “Parktakes” magazine, found online or at your public library. Fairfax County has numerous parks of varying sizes. Two parks that may be of special interest to families of young children are:

Clemyjontri is a two-acre playground divided into four outdoor “rooms.” It is accessible to all children, including those with physical disabilities. It has a carousel and picnic pavilion. 
6317 Georgetown Pike, McLean, VA 22101 703-388-2807.

Frying Pan Farm Park includes a replica of a 1920’s farm, a carousel, hayrides, country store and Visitor’s Center. Children can see a variety of farm animals and old farm equipment. Picnic tables and a playground are available. 
2709 West Ox Road, Herndon, VA 20171

Fairfax County Health Clinics

Documentation of immunization is required for children entering kindergarten. The Fairfax County Health Department offers required school immunizations for free at clinic locations. 

Visit our website for a list of locations and required school immunizations.

Some locations may offer dental services for children - an appointment is needed.


Helping Your Child Love to Learn
Learn about early childhood development from birth to age 5. Discover activities families and educators can introduce to encourage growth in science, math, literacy, language, creative arts, social and emotional development, and health and physical development. Available in multiple languages.

Fairfax County Public Schools Parent Advocacy Handbook: Getting Ready for Kindergarten
As your child’s first teacher, you help them get ready for kindergarten. Available in multiple languages.

Web Pages

Fairfax County Public Schools Kindergarten Registration 
The kindergarten registration page has information to help parents to complete the 5-step process for student enrollment. FCPS webpages are available in multiple languages.

Fairfax County Public Schools Kindergarten 
This web page has information about the FCPS Kindergarten experience. For questions, call 703-204-6734 or send an e-mail to

Helping Children Learn Newsletter  (English and Spanish)
This newsletter has school success ideas for parents.

Daily Learning Planner  (English and Spanish)
These monthly calendars have ideas families can use to help children prepare for school.




Vroom’s brain building tips are a fun way for families and early educators to help children learn and develop the skills they will need in school and beyond. This free app is available on iOS and Android devices (computers, tablets, smartphones). The app is available in English and Spanish.

CDC Milestone Tracker
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Milestone Tracker helps you track your child’s progress. It includes suggestions to support children’s development from 2 months to 5 years of age. This free app is available on iOS and Android devices and is available in English and Spanish.

It's Time to Register for Kindergarten!

If your child will be 5 years old by September 30, now is the time to contact your neighborhood elementary school for information and the registration packet.

Find Your School

The kindergarten registration page has information to help parents to complete the 5-step process for student enrollment. FCPS webpages are available in multiple languages.

Fairfax County Public Schools Kindergarten Registration 

Fairfax Virtual Assistant