I hate kindergarten!

12 ways to make the transition easy on your preschooler

All children starting Kindergarten and particularly those with special needs benefit from additional assistance in making their first transition to "big kid" school even if they are experienced preschoolers. When it comes to your special needs preschooler, there are major advantages to easing into preschool and kindergarten.

Gina Maranga, director of program operations at the Block Institute, shares these 12 tips for helping make the transition easier.

1. Structured Days. Have scheduled times for specific activities including fine motor (playing with blocks, sand box, coloring, puzzles), gross motor (climbing, bicycling, running, playground time), cognitive and language (reading, word games, puzzles) as well as social/emotional time playing with friends in small groups.

2. Encourage Sustained Attention. Encourage sustained attention to tasks and activities for 15 to 30 minute intervals. If a child can't sustain their attention, try to work up to the goal in 3-5 minute increments. Reward success with verbal praise, stars on a chart or special play privileges such as picking their next activity.

3. Schedule Play dates. Encourage social interaction with peers such as play dates centered around specific activities or group play at the playground.

4. Get a head start. Introduce and reinforce pre-academic skills like colors, shapes, letters, weather, and children's songs.

5. Incorporate story time. Read with your child every day. Summer reading clubs at public libraries are a great opportunity to engage and reward children in active reading.

READ MORE: #1 reason to send your child to preschool

6. Work in Quite Time. Incorporate reading time, quiet time for a child to "read" books on their own every day.

7. Encourage independence. Encourage independence at whatever level your child can function, such as eating, dressing, toileting, and washing hands.

8. Play school. Play school and enlist the help of big brothers and sisters or neighborhood kids to make the "class" fun and more realistic from their personal experiences.

9. Schedule a visit. Meet your child's teacher and visit your child's new school before school starts. Schools are very accommodating to allow children with special needs or simply those who are anxious to see the room, find their way to the bathroom or through the halls, to the cafeteria, playground, gym, auditorium or school library.

10. Involve your child in the process. Get your child to help with school shopping.

READ MORE: The power of story time

11. Start a countdown. As September approaches, involve your child in a countdown to the first day. A summer craft project can be to fill in a school starts soon calendar to cross of the days.

12. Create a picture book together. Draw or clip out pictures of a school bus, school, classroom, teacher, etc. After the first day of school talk about what is similar and what's different.

The Block Institute is a not-for-profit, non-sectarian agency serving developmentally delayed children and adults. The education program services children aged three months to nine years old both with and without developmental delays in an integrated setting. The adult programs include on- and off-site residences, adult day, clinic and vocational programs.