As the front page of the New York Times reported on July 27, 2010, the legacy of kindergarten is far stronger than previously thought. A new study has revealed that how well kids learn in kindergarten, in fact, sets them up for college, marriage, retirement, and a higher salary.   

There are lots of things parents can do to help their preschooler get ready for kindergarten. Emotionally, this can be a challenging time for a child. Suddenly he's faced with all sorts of social issues, and he's not always prepared for how to deal with them. Will the other kids like me? Will the teachers like me? What if I have to go to the bathroom? What if I get hungry? What if I don't understand the things they're teaching me? Parents can take the time now to explore these fears with their children well before the first day of school, and they can practice these situations at home to boost their child's self-confidence and self-awareness.

Here are 10 important ways you can prepare your child to do well in kindergarten:

  1. Read with your child on a daily basis.
  2. Play ABC games that encourage your child to recognize the letters of the alphabet—both uppercase and lowercase. Ask your child to "find the letter" in newspaper articles, on menus, or in street signs.
  3.  Have your child practice his pre-writing skills with activities that build hand-eye coordination. Games such as Connect-the-Dots, tracing shapes, and coloring books are good ways to build fine motor skills and coordination.
  4.  Play 1-2-3 games that encourage your child to know his numbers 1–10 and beyond. Ask your child to find numbers on the remote control, on bus lines, and on maps.
  5.  Play addition games with your child using real objects. If you give her raisins for lunch, ask her to count out 10, add five, and then count the total to see how many she has.
  6.  Introduce the eight primary colors to your child, and have him practice distinguishing them from each other.
  7.  When your child is coloring, ask him what colors he used. Ask him to talk about his drawings.
  8.  Have your child sort objects by color, by type, by taste. If you're cooking, let your child sort all the sweet-flavored items into one group for you, or all the green vegetables.
  9.  Have your child lead you around the neighborhood, guiding you to your home, to the local store, to the bus stop.
  10.  Discuss the world around you whenever and wherever you are. Explain what you can, and let your child explain things to you. Don't correct your child too often. Eventually he'll know what he needs to know, but for now it's okay to believe in magical things.

Raquel Jarramillo is the director and editor of Brain Quest.