Transitioning to kindergarten can be a big change for child and parents alike. Your little kiddo is spending time in a new and unfamiliar environment several hours a week and will soon have his own homework assignments and field trips. It can be difficult and even overwhelming at times. Thankfully, there are ways you can make the transition smoother so that you start the school year with confidence and ease. Here are six ways to get your kindergartner started on the right foot.
1. Discuss the Change in Depth
The best possible way to keep kindergarten from being a shocking alteration is by talking it over with your child. Discuss what kindergarten will be like, what she will learn, how long she will be in class each day and any other particulars that your child may be curious about. Build a connection by talking about your own school experiences and what you enjoyed most. Demystifying the idea of school will help your child feel more comfortable and familiar with the change.
2. Visit the Classroom
Before the big day, set up an appointment with the teacher to see your child’s classroom. This will enable your little one to see exactly where he’ll be each day and become acquainted with the room and the school itself. Visit with the teacher, walk the hallways, take a trip to the restroom … trace any steps your child may take during the school year so that he acclimates to the new surroundings.
3. Keep the Stress Low
If you’re stressing about this new life development, chances are your child is too. Try to eliminate the overhanging anxiety by keeping a regular schedule with plenty of sleep, healthy food and exercise. Additionally, keep talking through the feelings so that your child knows it’s normal to feel nervous about such a drastic shift. Limit technology use — your child’s and your own — to give more time for personal connection and face-to-face time.
4. Do Behind-the-Scenes Prep
As the day approaches, you’ll want to ensure you’ve done the prep work necessary to make the first morning go off without a hitch. Load up your child’s backpack with everything she will need for the day: supplies, any necessary paperwork, and a snack or lunch if required. Let your child pick out her outfit and shoes, and lay them out the night before so that you’re not digging through drawers or searching for the ever-missing shoe five minutes before you need to be out the door. And don’t forget to serve a hearty, protein-packed breakfast.
5. Send Along Some Friendly Items
Some children really struggle with the idea of being away from their parents, siblings and home during school hours. One way to ease this homesickness is by including some familiar items in your child’s backpack: a photo of the family, a favorite keepsake or a note that simply says, “I love you.” Any special detail will remind your child that you’re not all that far away and allow him to enjoy the day to the fullest.
6. Celebrate the Close of a Great First Day
At the end of the first day, have a “first day celebration.” Prepare a special after-school snack and talk to your child about what he learned, if he made any new friends, and what his favorite game was. Be sure to offer lots of praise and encouragement!
The transition to kindergarten can be a drastic one, but it doesn’t have to be distressing. Implement a few of these simple practices, and your child’s first day of school will be one of excitement and adventure for parent and child alike.