Are you at that point of life where your kid is ready to begin kindergarten? Or first year of schooling? Whatever they call it where you live. It can be a daunting and harrowing time for both parent and child, so we try to do everything we can to make the transition as tear free as possible. I’m at this point again in my life this year. The eldest finished up her schooling journey a year ago, but now the youngest is set to begin kindergarten in 2021. So I’ve put together 5 smart tips on getting your kid ready for kindergarten without tears from my experiences the first time round with daughter #1, many years as a kindergarten teacher and this year’s journey with daughter #2.
Tip 1- Preschooling
The number one tip to help in getting your kid ready for kindergarten (ie first year of schooling) is to make sure your child has some form of preschooling. Whether this be an actual preschool they attend, a preschool program at your daycare centre or at minimum going to a regular playgroup, it is a vital step to a successful transition to formal schooling. Your kid needs to have been away from your side (or your extended family) and worked on socialising with other adults and children.
During my experiences teaching kindergarten for many years it is the children who have never been away from their family for any time that have the hardest time adjusting to kindergarten. They are scared, may cry for weeks and don’t know how to interact with an adult and other children who will not just give in to their immediate demands. And as more demands are made on the curriculum requirements for these children beginning school each year it keeps getting harder for those with no preschooling opportunities.
Tip 2- Preparation
Start getting your child ready for kindergarten transition as early as you can. My 4 year old has been a little bit anxious about kindergarten since the beginning of last year when her little cousin who she’d spend time being cared for at her grandparents place started big school himself. So we had to work on reassuring her that kindergarten was still a year away for her and that she’d do many things that would help her not feel anxious or scared about it (some of which didn’t eventuate due to Covid restrictions, but still helped her feel more prepared and ready as she neared this milestone).
If in a preschooling program many of these preparations will be covered in that, but it doesn’t hurt to cover these at home too. Involve your kid in talks about how they will soon go to kindergarten as they are growing up. Touch on things they may do there at big school and that you will be getting ready for this exciting time. If they express any fears about what is to come, talk through that and work out a plan you can work on together to overcome those fears. Read stories or watch videos about starting school.
Participate in orientation programs the school provides when you are enrolled for the next year. In Australian schools these are usually in Term 4 of school. Pre-Covid orientations involved parent introductions to the school and services and usually 3 or 4 sessions for the children to visit and experience ‘big school’. 2020 made those orientations quite difficult for kids starting kindergarten this year. Every school around our state managed orientation in their own different way and adhering to social distancing requirements. Our little miss got a one hour visit where she watched a video and then made a Humpty Dumpty and did some tracing practice. She then came home with the library bag the school give each child starting and a booklet of information about starting school. Parents didn’t get to have their usual meeting, but were provided all information about the school via a link posted on the school’s social media page.
Tip 3- Practise
Now when I say practise I’m not just referring to the skills that your child will need to complete work in Kindergarten. Yes, your child should have experience with using pencils to draw, trace and colour, talking to other children and adults, looking at books and counting objects. But they need to also practise doing other tasks that are involved in a school day.
Things such as
- Being able to dress themselves with everything ready for school.
- Put on and take off items off like shoes, socks, jumpers, jackets, hats.
- Open a lunch box or snack container.
- Open packets of food – store bought, zip lock bag, gladwrap, etc.
- Being able to sit on a child sized chair and pull it closer in to the table.
- Being responsible for their own belongings.
- Open zippers or clips on school bags.
Tip 4- Requirements
Every kindergarten class has items that your child will need for the year. Be prepared and arrange to have these in advance of the first day. Depending where your school is situated these could include uniforms, school bags, paint shirts, library bags, lunch box, drink bottle, devices, headphones, stationery, tissues, wipes, etc. Contact your school for what exact requirements they have as some can be very brand specific on what they request.
Tip 5- Involvement
Your child will feel more confident and comfortable with the idea of school if they are involved in the collection of their school requirements (see tip 4). Of course uniform shopping is often the easiest one for them to participate in as you need to check sizing and want it to fit now, but also last the school year. Don’t forget school shoes and practise wearing them so they don’t cause blisters on the first week of school!
Then you can ask for their input in items they will take with them every day. Buy a bag in their favourite colour. Test out which lunch boxes your child can open and likes. Involve them in as many of these small decisions as you can to help them feel ready for kindergarten. This is especially important for kids with anxieties.
Hopefully these few tips help you manage your transition of getting your kid ready for kindergarten. If you would like some additional ideas for getting your kid ready for kindergarten and big school, see my download here of things teachers will be eternally grateful to you if you implement them. (COMING SOON)
For those looking for some printable activities for the practice with tracing activities see my friend Beck’s page.
To read more on being an organised mum click here.