Countdown to Kindergarten-5 Easy Steps to Ease the Transition
So, your young child has graduated from pre-school and will soon be attending Kindergarten. Or perhaps your child did not attend pre-school and they are preparing for their first significant block of time away from you. First of all, Congratulations Mom and Dad! You have shepherded your child through their early developmental years. For some parents, this is the most difficult stage of parenting. Young children are so dependent upon us for much of their needs at this stage. Some parents love this dependence and we know too, that some parents are not so happy during the early developmental years. Most parents are in the middle and enjoy/struggle through the early milestones.
What can you do to prepare your young child and yourself for their Kindergarten start? Here are 5 steps you can take to help ease the transition to Kindergarten:
- Ease your own mind first. You know when you travel on a plane and the flight attendant asks you to put on your oxygen mask before your child’s mask, in case of emergency. Parenting has some things in common with this process. Ease your own mind first so you can transmit the message that attending Kindergarten is exciting rather than frightening. Use positive self-talk, relaxation techniques, and visualization to view Kindergarten as a safe and nurturing environment. Some schools have a Welcoming Breakfast for new families. If so, try to attend and meet more experienced parents who can help you feel less alone with your feelings. At my children’s elementary school, they would call this event the “BooHoo breakfast” since many of the parents were very sad to see their young children go off to a new, big school.
- Plan a visit to your child’s Kindergarten class before school begins. Why not request to visit your child’s teacher, briefly, before kindergarten begins? Some schools specifically schedule these visits (sometimes for testing) but other schools do not. If the school/teacher is OK with visiting, consider bringing your child in briefly for a visit that has nothing to do with testing. Briefly tour the classroom, point out the fun-looking activities, and shake hands with the new teacher. Might you want to take a picture of the teacher and post it in your house for a while? In this way, the Kindergarten teacher is no longer a “stranger”.
- Ask the teacher if it is OK for you and other students to bring in pictures of family to post somewhere in the classroom. Why not volunteer to organize this project since it will be easier for the Kindergarten teacher to say “Yes” to your request? If your child misses you during the school day, they can look at the pictures of their family.
- Read age-appropriate books that are written about attending Kindergarten. Take turns reading to your child or ask your child to follow along the reading with you. Point to the words that you are reading and ask your child to name some of the letters that they recognize. Most children cannot read before Kindergarten. If your child can read, ask them to take turns reading Kindergarten books with you. Fun examples include Ms. Bindergarten Gets Ready For Kindergarten, Countdown to Kindergarten, Kindergarten Rocks, and The Night Before Kindergarten.
- If possible, introduce your young child to another child attending the same Kindergarten. In this way, they will have at least one familiar student face in the classroom on their first day. The more familiar associations with Kindergarten, the more at ease you and your child will feel.