Even if your child has been in preschool for the years leading up to Kindergarten, attending a much larger and confusing elementary school for the first time can be extremely intimidating. While they may see some of their familiar preschool friends, there will be many new faces, different teachers, big hallways, and of course, a new set of rules to follow. Here are some things you can do to Prepare Your Child for Kindergarten and make the transition easier for your child.
Talk about it – Let them know what to expect from school, talk about the new friends they will make , field trips, things they will learn. If they are going to ride a bus, walk, or ride a bike to school. Show them the route several times while you discuss the rules.
Read About It – Reading a book or two with your child will help them know what to expect from this new adventure. There are a lot of books out there dedicated to Kindergarten specifically as well as school and separation issues in general. Read any of these great books in the weeks leading up to the first day to help calm some of the uneasiness for your child. Kindergarten, Here I Come!, The Night Before Kindergarten, Kindergarten Rocks!, Countdown to Kindergarten, and my all time favorite The Kissing Hand. This is the sweetest story of a nervous little raccoon who goes to school with a kiss from momma on the palm of his hand so a part of her travels with him throughout the day. Sheesh. I get all teary thinking about it. Maybe my baby boy needs to kiss the palm of my hand so I can take it with me to the office while he is having fun all day at school!
Act It Out – Dramatic play is a wonderful way for kids to work out their feelings, and “practice” before the real deal. Set up a chalkboard, stuffed animals for students, paper, pencils,etc. Model raising your hand,sitting at a desk, and following directions.
Make a Visit – Schools generally have an open house along with or on a separate night from Kindergarten registration. Do your best to be there, this is a great chance to meet the teacher, check out the classroom, and tour the school. This will help your child be at least somewhat familiar with it when the first day of school comes.
Have Siblings Help – Jed thinks the world of his big sister and wants to do everything she does. She has been a reassuring voice of what Jed can expect when he is at school, and she reminds him that she will be there to look out for him to make sure everything is ok. These sibling conversations just melt my heart.
Shop For School Supplies – Even if your child doesn’t need a whole new school wardrobe, shop for a special first day of school outfit, new shoes, and supplies. Letting your child make some of the choices will help them from feeling powerless about this new situation and making it feel like a great new path instead of a scary experience.
Start the Morning Right – If possible, sit down with your child to a special breakfast. Sharing simple shaped toast, pancakes with fruit, or even a bowl of cereal gives your child a boost in the right direction. Review what they can expect on the trip to and from school, and during the school day. At the end of the day, sit down to dinner together after talk about their day. Ask pointed questions to prevent the all too familiar “I don’t know”, and let them know you are proud of their accomplishment.
Take Pictures – Find a printable first day of school sign that shows the grade, there are a ton on Pinterest. I made the one in this post in Picmonkey. It’s super easy with all the available fonts, graphics and colors. Try and take the picture in the same spot each year so you can see their growth and changes. My favorite is next to the bamboo tree in the main foyer. I have been taking the pics there since Baby had her first day of Kindergarten!
What’s your best tip you have for helping Prepare Your Child for Kindergarten or back to school?