What’s the one thing you should do for your kindergartner? (Besides telling her to stand up for herself, clearly.) (Matt McClain/For The Washington Post)

Your little one may be starting the second half of his first school year, or 2014 is the year your child will head off to his or her first “real” school.

So what is the one thing every kindergarten teacher wishes parents would do for their new academically inclined (or disinclined, as the case may be) child?

The best thing any parent could do, says Kelly Haynes, kindergarten teacher at Ashland Elementary School in Manassas, is to stop doing “everything!”

“Allow them to put on their own shoes and coat and learn how to fasten their pants,” is her advice. “Stop doing all of the things they can do, like pack their backpack and put their lunch box away.”

She’s got a point. It can become so easy to just do things for them (time constraints, anyone?) that many kids come to school ill-prepared. And that equates lots of lost time learning, playing and having fun. Not to mention the poor teacher.

“When they get to school the teacher is way outnumbered and cannot possibly check each backpack for a lunch or important papers,” Haynes said. “The students will be expected to follow simple step directions on where to hang the backpack or put the lunch box independently.”

The first time I volunteered at my now-first-grader’s kindergarten class, I was amazed at the precision of the morning duties. Backpacks in one spot. Lunch boxes in another. Folders out, seats taken. One girl didn’t have her folder, and the teacher asked where it was. “My mom forgot to put it in my bag,” the girl said. “Oh really? Whose folder is it?” the teacher asked. She had the little ones working so independently that I learned a few parenting tricks just watching her. It made me realize that of course my son could do all of those things at home.

The best part of sending your new-school child off with a few life skills? “How proud are they going to be when they are confident with these much needed skills!” Haynes said.