Both starting kindergarten and transitioning into first grade are two of the most significant adjustments children have to make.

Starting both kindergarten and transitioning into first grade are two of the most significant adjustments children have to make.

Beginning kindergarten can be especially problematic because the academic and social playing fields often are uneven for youngsters just beginning school.

For example, some children will arrive to kindergarten with a preschool background, in which they learned proper behavioral etiquette and basic math skills.

Meanwhile, other students may struggle because they haven’t attended as much exposure to those concepts or the social skills their peers gained in daycare or preschool.

Yet children who fall into the latter category can still overcome those struggles fairly quickly, according to Michelle Duke, an education associate for the Delaware Department of Education.

“Early intervention is the most powerful intervention,” said Duke, who’s also a former principal at South Dover Elementary School.

Duke said teachers will be able to spot a child’s problem areas within the first couple of weeks of school and will then begin to help address those deficiencies.

But that responsibility shouldn’t fall completely on the teacher’s shoulders, Duke said. Parents can help make this transition smoother by exposing their kids to basic math lessons and reading non-fiction books outside of the classroom.

Spending extra time at home to help reinforce lessons learned at school will help build a child’s confidence, and they’ll feel more prepared when they’re in school, said Dover resident Idung Udoh, whose son William will start first-grade at South Dover Elementary this fall.

Udoh and his wife, Esther, read to William every day, something that Udoh’s father did with him as a boy.

Having both grown up in Africa, Udoh and Esther said they are very serious about William’s education.

“A person who graduates from high school in the United States can easily get a job at like McDonalds,” Udoh said. “In any African country, you have to [at least] have a bachelor’s degree to be able to find a job.”

Kindergarten to first-grade

Entering first-grade is another big leap for children to make because it tasks with them becoming more independent. They’ll receive homework assignments and they’ll be expected to enhance their vocabulary and math skills quickly.

The transition to this grade can be difficult if children stop practicing their math skills and reading during the summer break before first grade, said June Wicks, the supervisor of reading and instruction for the Smyrna School District. “That’s a very vulnerable age as far as retaining information,” she said.

Wicks said parents should make sure their kids are “getting involved in the local public library’s reading program.”

“Stay involved,” she added. “Do family fun activities and continue to read with them and sharpen those math skills.”