DERBY, Kan. (KSNW) – Kindergarten is a whole new world for incoming four and five-year-olds.

Brown demonstrates the dip and flip jacket trick for Killian.

In Derby, the Parents As Teachers program features a ‘Kindergarten bootcamp’ for incoming students to learn about the challenges ahead and foster independence in a fun and engaging way.

“It’s tricky, isn’t it?” parent educator Allison Brown said in a session with five-year-old students Rune and Killian, teaching them how to put their jackets and backpacks on.

Minutes later, the kids were learning how to carry a lunch tray without spilling the contents.

“Sometimes, it might spill this way, or it might spill this way. So you have to practice holding it flat,” Brown instructed.

Brown lets five-year-old Rune attempt to open applesauce before getting it started for her. She recommends parents get packages partway open for kids to finish opening themselves at lunchtime.

The kids then go through a small obstacle course with the lunch tray to practice balancing it.

Lunchtime can bring many challenges, including eating within a specific time frame and opening containers typically done by parents or guardians at home.

“If you can start a package for them, that way they get the independence of finishing the package, then that means they don’t have to wait on an adult to assist them. And they can get to the lunch during their lunchtime,” Brown said.

Children thrive on routine. Brown advises starting one before school starts so they can know what to expect.

“You want that first day of school to start with happiness and to start not feeling rushed,” Brown said.

When kids get home from the first day of school, Brown advises they’ll be tired mentally.

“I always suggest to parents, get them outside, open-ended play outside as soon as you get home,” Brown said.

Tips from Brown:

Supplies – Be intentional about the school supplies you buy for your kids. Pencils with artsy designs may often be more appealing than traditional orange ones but not effectively erase or sharpen.

Example of literature to teach kids social concepts.

Backpacks – Select the right fit for your child. For example, some backpacks are too big for young students. Others are too small to accommodate a folder. Bonus: If the backpack has a cup holder on the side, that’s one less item for your Kindergartener to carry.

Use literature – Many books about the first day of school are available at local libraries. If your child has additional struggles, like understanding personal space or bathroom hygiene, check out books to assist them with their individual issues.

Label everything – From jackets to pencils to crayons. Kindergarteners don’t always remember their jacket or winter coat if it’s been months since they’ve worn it. Bonus: Brown suggests writing sweet messages on pencils.