Sending your child to kindergarten is a huge milestone in life – his and yours! If your child has been at home or in a free play environment prior to kindergarten, the kindergarten schedule may come as a big shock to your little one. Research shows us that toddlers and kindergartners sometimes struggle with transition times, so being forced to transition between many new things during the day can come as a shock to your kindergartner. Here are a few simple tips to help you prepare your child for the kindergarten schedule:
1. Establish a Routine. Kate Gosselin has hammered into us the importance of having our children on a schedule, however; many Moms rely on instinct to determine when their child is tired, hungry, or needs to go outside and burn some energy. At kindergarten, the teacher has many children to work with, so she will establish a schedule on the first day so the children know what to expect next – and so will she! Contact the school the year before your child enters kindergarten and request a copy of the kindergarten schedule. Decide what items you can naturally work into your current routine and set a tentative schedule to cover the basics of your day with your child. Your schedule should set a time for each of the following items: Wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed, play time, lunch time, nap time, dinner time, bath time, and bed time.
2. Transition, Smansition. It’s no secret to you that transitions with your child can be difficult. When he enters kindergarten, his teacher will not have the time or inclination to spend all her time transitioning just him – she will have twenty other crying children at the same time. Make it easy on your child by preparing him to transition. Some great tips are: use a timer to help your child understand a finite finish time and give your child a “heads up” to let him know what’s next. Your child may fuss because he doesn’t want to stop his current activity, or is not excited about the next activity, however; you do him a disservice to allow him to plan his day. It sounds easier than it is, but ultimately you are the parent and you have to do what’s best for him. In this case, it’s helping him cope with difficult transitions and learn to listen to his teacher.
3. Listening Ears – Engage! The biggest behavior problem that can cause your child trouble in kindergarten is not listening to his teacher. If your child will listen to his teacher and comply with the class rules, he is much more likely to love school and find it fun. If your child has a difficult time listening and following rules, he is probably going to spend a significant amount of time in time out or in the principal’s office… which is not fun. Helping your child learn to listen is a much-discussed subject among parents and academics. If you boil it all down into one concept, it’s “be consistent”. Sometimes it takes parents a little while to figure out what this means for their family. Just keep trying – Google and your family pediatrician can provide you with a wealth of information on how to get great at raising a happy, healthy, well-behaved child.