With the ring of the first school bell just around the corner, you may be frantically trying to decide if your child is ready to step through the doors of the public school for the first time. Even as a teacher, I worry about how my own child’s development compares to other children. It is easy to comb through web pages and child development books looking for the “checklist” that will assure you that your child is “normal” or better yet, “advanced.”
However, the best thing you can do for your child is to prepare them socially, mentally, and developmentally for kindergarten and prepare yourself to be their biggest cheerleader no matter how they are doing. If you are scared, just imagine how they are going to feel. Here are a few ideas on how to make sure that the first day of school makes a great first impression on your child.
If you want to know how your child feels about starting school, talk to them about it often. Provide opportunities for your child to share things that they might make them scared or nervous. Be sure to provide them with reassurance about those things. You should also encourage them to focus on the things that they might be excited about such as recess, craft time, or making new friends.
When a child enters kindergarten, they will be transitioning from learning through play, to learning through instruction. According to Child Aware.org, you should practice doing learning activities and build up until they can attend to a task for up to 15 minutes. Your child should also be able to follow simple, verbal directions and be understood when they communicate. Your child should also be able to take care of their own feeding, dressing, and toileting needs.
Even children know that there is safety in numbers. Seek out the mothers of children that will be in your child’s class or grade and schedule a few play dates or a “going-to-school-party” to build excitement for kindergarten and give the children an opportunity to get to know each other. Your child will feel much safer and self-assured if when they enter the classroom, they see familiar faces.
Meet the Teacher
You would be surprised at how many parents blow off meet the teacher night. This is one of the best ways to build rapport with the teacher (for both parents and students). The most important thing it will do for your child is eliminate the fear of the unknown. Your child will get to see what this whole school thing is all about.
While the ultimate success of your child’s academic success does not hinge on a single day, preparing your child for kindergarten could mean the difference between a morning filled with excitement and anticipation or one filled with crying and fear, for both you and your child.
Ready 4 Kindergarten (accessed 7/25/2010)
Child Care Aware.org (accessed 7/25/2010)