If you have a child entering kindergarten this August, be sure you spend time this summer prepping her for the big day. The milestone shouldn't be stressful for your child — or you — so be proactive ahead of time to get things off to a fun start. Play "school" with your child this summer so she can walk into her first day of class beaming with confidence.

Deborah Dixon, director of school services for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), says  preparation with real-life experiences (as opposed to focusing only on workbooks or apps) will go a long way.

4 READINESS TIPS

COMMUNICATION SKILLS
Sharing one’s thoughts, wants and needs as well as understanding the thoughts, wants and needs of others.

SOCIAL SKILLS
Successfully interacting and sharing experiences with peers and adults. This involves taking turns, initiating and concluding conversations, and using appropriate gestures, facial expressions and intonations, among other things.

INDEPENDENCE AND SELF-REGULATION
Being able to complete age-appropriate tasks (using the bathroom, washing hands, dressing) without assistance as well as being able to control one’s emotions and behaviors.

PROBLEM SOLVING, COLLABORATION, FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS
Knowing how to play with other children, work with other children and teachers, and solve the hundreds of small problems that may come up every day.

4 INDEPENDENCE ESSENTIALS

TYING SHOES
Let your child practice this in steps. For the first few days, teach her to do the X and go through the first loop (the easy part). Do this over and over. Let her tie everything (cushions on chairs, your shoes, a bow on a present). Stay calm, encourage her, and let her stop if she grows frustrated. It's no biggie. It will take about a week. Refrain from jumping in and doing it for her.

OPENING A JUICE BOX
Even if you don’t send one with your child, parties and in-school celebrations often include juice boxes. Teach her how to open a juice box step-by-step: Remove the straw, open it, insert it into the juice box, drink it, throw it away (do not wait for the teacher to come by and get it).

GETTING WHAT SHE NEEDS
You want your child to take responsibility for herself. Think about if she breaks her pencil in class. Will she know she needs to raise her hand to get another one? Or will she sit there, doing nothing, because she didn’t know she needs to take care of it herself? Your child needs to know that she needs to get up, get in line and take care of her needs. No one is going to do it for her. Remember, you’re raising her to be a responsible student.

KNOW THE BASICS
Does your child know her first and last name, phone number, address? Don’t send her out into the world without this information. If you’re not sure she will remember, write it down and slip the paper in her shoe … just in case she forgets.

Should You Redshirt Your Child?

Delaying your child’s start at the pre-k or kindergarten level — known as academic redshirting — is on the rise as parents grapple with the must-be-5-by-August-15 cut-off date that forces them to decide whether they want their children to be among the oldest in their class or the youngest.

Whether your child enters kindergarten as a young 5-year-old, older 5-year-old or young 6-year-old, a vast majority of the kids are all going to be reading at the same level by the third-grade reading benchmark.

Before you make a concrete decision about whether to redshirt your child, ask yourself these questions:

• Why are you considering holding your child back for one more year? What makes you feel she isn’t ready right now?

• Has your child been in preschool? If so, what was her experience like? Did she do well there?

• Will your child be able to meet the expectations of the particular kindergarten program you want her to attend?

• Do you feel your child needs extra time to build social skills?

• If you’re going to redshirt your child, how do you plan to use the additional year to prepare her for kindergarten the following school year?