Kindergarten these days is not like it was when I was younger. It was half day (some are now full day), and we colored, had books read to us, were outside for recess a lot and ate snacks. That was the extent of the Kindergarten day. These days, Kindergartners carry backpacks with assignments in it, bring their lunches and sometimes also a snack for full day programs, and learn to read, write and arithmetic. They also take gym and art and music. All I learned in Kindergarten was how to color and the shapes of things. Most Kindergartners, more than half who have gone to preschool or daycare, already know how to do those things.
Below find five ways to prepare your child for Kindergarten.
START READING STORIES TO YOUR KIDS THAT THEY GET INVOLVED WITH
The best thing I did with my daughter before and during Kindergarten, (the first of my children to go to Kindergarten,) was read her the same books over and over. Once she got used to these books, I would read part of the sentences, and she would finish them because she had memorized the stories. If she was unsure of a phrase or word, I would point at the pictures on the page and that would prompt her memory. I found out, after she was in Kindergarten for some months, that they utilize these strategies in class. Once she knew the books by heart, we’d try new ones.
GET THE KIDS USED TO THE ROUTINE
A week or so before, start putting your kids in bed and waking them up at the times that they will be going to bed and getting ready for school. This way, there is no fighting when the time comes. Also try giving them less snacks throughout the day since they will not be able to eat whenever they want when they are in school.
Establish this sense of routine so you can ease into it once September comes.
TAKE A TOUR OF THE SCHOOL
Some kids are anxious about school, even if they’ve been to preschool or daycare, because it is a new experience with new people, and is probably a lot larger in scale than any other place they have been. I called my daughter’s school, a month or so before she started, after a friend suggested this to me. The Principal met us at the door and took us for a tour of the whole school. We saw the Kindergarten wing, the gym, the art studio, the library etc…I am sure it was overwhelming, but by holding my hand and not having students in session, she got to view the school without pressure. On her first day, when she came home, she said, “Mommy! I have been there before! I remembered it! Remember when we were there?” That did my heart some good. She came home happy. Success!
PRACTICE SCHOOL BUS RIDE
Our school did not offer this, and still doesn’t, but I wish they did. My daughter, however, was okay with the bus, but some kids can be frightened of riding the bus. Some schools offer a practice ride along, where parents can ride with their kids, go to the different stops and end up at the school. This is a great way to show the kids this process is okay.
TALK TO YOUR KIDS AND TALK TO THE SCHOOL STAFF
Your Kindergartner is still young, but they are now old enough to go to school by themselves and learn. This is a big deal. Ask your child how they are feeling about going, and what can you do to help it make it easier on them. When they come home from school those first weeks, ask about their teachers and friends they’ve made, and how riding on the bus is, and which class is their favorite…If they realize how interesting this is to you, it will be just as interesting to them. Talking to them is also a great way to find out if there are problems.
Also, talk to the teacher(s) and the school when you need to. My daughter’s teachers have always been accessible through email or phone, and that was a great help, especially if your child does NOT tell you a lot. Communication with your children, the school, other parents etc…is one of the most important ways you can make your child comfortable in school and in life really.
Have a wonderful first school year!