•   If you choose to forego kindergarten till your child is older, you’ll probably have the option of starting him in either kindergarten or first grade the next year. Even if my child was doing first grade work, I would officially call him a kindergartener. That way, if anything happens in the future (such as a family emergency, extended illness, or learning problems), your child will be ahead of the game, not behind. This takes a lot of pressure off you and your child. You can always skip him ahead later.

     •   Kindergarten is the time to develop consistency and regularity in your daily routines, if you haven’t already. Develop habits in yourself and your children that will help you keep your house in order, and establish a daily “school time” with your children, with a regular starting time.

     •   The word “kindergarten” literally means “children’s garden.” Kindergarten was meant to be exactly that: a wonderful year full of beauty, wonder, and play. Kindergarten has traditionally been a year of transition, a time of preparation for entry into more formal education. In most countries, “kindergarten” is a part of the preschool or “nursery school” system, and not a part of the elementary school system. Kindergarten is an entity all its own—a special, separated time. It was never intended to be just another part of the traditional school system—another year of elementary school. Kindergarten is somewhere north of preschool, somewhere south of first grade.

     •   Kindergarten is a time to concentrate, now more than ever, on the development of your child’s character. Work out any discipline problems as best you can. See to it that your child obeys quickly and cheerfully. Train your child to be a cheerful helper. Practice table manners and field trip manners.

     •   Kindergarten is the time to relish those Bible stories—reading longer Bible storybooks and talking about the lessons in the stories.

     •   Kindergarten is the time to begin daily memory work, if you haven’t already: not only Bible verses, but simple poems and nursery rhymes, tongue twisters, etc.

     •   Kindergarten is the time to have fun with educational games, using them to make sure your child knows all his facts: colors, shapes, opposites, letters, and numbers.

     •   Kindergarten is the time to extend your child’s attention span to 20-30 minutes or more.

     •   Kindergarten is the time to begin reading chapter books aloud to your children, if you haven’t already: Winnie the Pooh, The Velveteen Rabbit, My Father’s Dragon, Catwings, Stuart Little, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.

     •   Kindergarten is the time when imaginative play really blossoms. You’ll hear your children assign roles: “You be the mommy, and I’ll be the daddy; let’s pretend we live on a boat” or “Pretend he doesn’t see you, and he says, ‘Oh my, where did he go?’” This is the time of life when play is as believable as real life to children. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your child has outgrown the need for imaginative play.

     •   Some children are ready for short, game-based lessons in phonics and math. It is your job, as parent, to decide when your child is ready to go on to the next step. (You can always try a few lessons and see how your child responds.)