Getting Ready for Kindergarten
There’s nothing like the first day of kindergarten – for parents and their kiddos. It is the start of the public school journey for many families. It’s a momentous occasion even for students who continue their education in the same school where they’ve experienced a preschool program.
Kindergarteners are moving out of their preschool years and into childhood, where their education will be a primary focus for many years to come.
As parents, we are excited for them and a little weepy that our little ones are spreading their wings in an environment without us.
They, too, can be both eager to be a ‘big school kid’ and nervous to be away from the security of home and their previous routine.
Here are a few tips for making the transition to kindergarten easier for everyone.
Six strategies for kindergarten readiness
Make room for the emotions
Transitioning to kindergarten is a big step for everyone, children and parents alike. It’s ok to be anxious, excited, and emotional. Invite your soon-to-be kindergartener to share their feelings. Acknowledge those feelings and share a little of your own. Keep the conversation positive and upbeat while letting them know it’s ok to have big feelings. End the conversation on a positive note, reminding them of all the fun things they will do at school (meet new friends, play on the playground, try new things.)
Get organized the night before
Make the mornings easier by laying out clothes and packing lunches the night before. Help your child be independent when dressing by providing clothes they can get on and off without your help. It is also a good idea to include extra clothes in their school backpack, just in case they need a spare during the day..
Check out the school playground
If you have access, visit the school playground a few times before school starts. This will help your kindergartener become familiar with the space and feel more comfortable that first week of school.
Choose lunch containers they can manage alone
Make sure they can open and close the containers you send to school with them – their water bottle, lunch box, and food containers. In the days before school starts give them lunch at home in their school lunch containers a few times so they have a chance to practice. If they struggle, find containers that are easier for them to use.
Establish a school day morning routine
Maintain a regular routine on school mornings. Decide whether you’ll eat breakfast or dress first, then make sure you follow the plan. Knowing the order that things will be done and maintaining consistency helps everyone be ready when it’s time to head out the door.
Encourage independence in toileting at home and in public restrooms
They’ll be expected to independently use the bathroom at school. Let your child practice being independent in the bathroom, both at home and when you’re out and about. When you visit a public restroom, let them go into the stall alone and take care of their own personal needs without your help.
Kindergarten is designed to help them learn how to be away from home, take direction from other adults, and expand their circle of friends. It’s natural to feel they are too young and inexperienced on that first day of school. But before you know it you’ll be wondering when they got so grown up and experienced.
For more ideas to support kindergarten readiness, check out these Head Start activities.