Sending your child to kindergarten for the first time is a major milestone, and it's normal for the anticipated event to cause some parental jitters. Some parents drill the ABCs or hire tutors, but there's no reason to exhaust yourself and your resources trying to cram your child's head with unnecessary knowledge.

The fact is, you really don't have to try so hard. What kids need most to succeed in school are parents who love and interact with them on a daily basis. If you engage in at least some of the following activities (and most of them are probably things you already do every day), your child will most likely be more than prepared to enter the kindergarten classroom.

1. Read to them. Aim for at least 20 minutes a day.

2. Have them read to you. They don't have to actually be reading to do this. Choose picture books and let them tell you the story in their own words.

3. Let them see you reading. Kids who grow up in households where knowledge is highly valued almost always have an edge in the classroom.

4. Have them cook with you. They'll be developing math skills!

5. Ask questions. Everyday experiences yield powerful learning opportunities. Ask them to identify colors and shapes, or predict what will happen next on a favorite show.

6. Play board games together. Kids will learn to develop patience, and get better at taking turns. Plus, it's fun!

7. Play listening games like Simon Says. Red Light, Green Light is another good game for building listening skills.

8. Sing songs. Singing songs — from silly nursery rhymes to whatever happens to be on the radio — is a great way to build vocabulary.

9. Keep magnetic letters on your fridge. You don't need to do anything with them. But your kid will probably want to play with them, and it's just one more way to expose him to letters.

10. Make him dress himself. A lot of parents tend focus on the academic aspects of kindergarten prep, but forget that kids should also be reasonably independent. Teachers can't zip thirty coats or button thirty pairs of pants after every bathroom break.

11. Buy shoes with Velcro. Or be certain your child is really good at tying his shoelaces

12. Invite friends over to play. Social skills are a big part of kindergarten. Playdates — which you would probably be hosting anyway — give your child plenty of opportunities to interact with other kids.

13. Send him on playdates — without you. Another great opportunity for your child to practice navigating life when you're not there to help.

14. Model good manners. Kids learn more from what you do than what you say. Set a good example by saying "please" and "thank you," and solving conflict without screaming and yelling.

15. Give lots of hugs. Receiving plenty of attention and affection at home helps kids to be more confident when it's time to head to school.

16. Listen when he speaks. It's easy to be distracted by your latest email. But your child needs to learn how to express his thoughts and opinions — and know that he deserves to be heard.

17. Encourage free play. Whether indoors or out, play is the work of childhood, and how kids learn best about the world around them. So first and foremost, let him play. Everything else will follow.