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Entering kindergarten can be an exciting and stressful time for both parents and children. Feelings of sadness, concerns about your child’s readiness and fear of the unknown can make this transition difficult. However, this time is a great learning opportunity for parents and kids alike as you embark upon this new adventure together.
“In today’s world the demands that modern day living place upon the family unit often push thoughtful consideration of the young child’s beginning educational experiences onto the back burner,” says Liz Blek, MS and President of the National Kindergarten Alliance. “Parents and kindergarten teachers need to get to know each child so as to correctly assess needs, abilities, interests, and learning style in order to provide the optimum learning environment."
Here are ten tips to help you, your child and your teacher get to know each other better and make the journey into kindergarten a little bit smoother for everyone involved.
1. Before You Begin
- About a month before school starts, adjust your daily routine to fit the school day schedule. Have your child get up earlier, eat lunch later and spend some time doing fun projects or activities together that will help get him in learning mode, ready for school.
- Read some books about kindergarten with your child. Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten, Will I Have a Friend? and The Kissing Hand are just a few great books to help your child get ready (ask your librarian for suggestions as well). Use these books as a springboard for discussion about your child’s fears and excitement about school.
2. Readiness Concerns
- Children come into kindergarten with a wide variety (and various levels) of skills and knowledge. Don’t stress too much about where your child is. Be confident he'll gain the skills he needs in the coming year.
- If you want help your child with some of the basic skills he'll need, spend some time helping him write his name and doing fun activities together to help him learn his letters, numbers, colors and shapes.
3. Transition Techniques
- If you're feeling anxious or sad about your child going to school, try to not to let on in front of him. He'll be much more comfortable if he feels you are comfortable when you drop him off at school.
- Don’t linger at the first day of class. Come in and see the classroom, help your child find something to do, give a quick hug and kiss and tell him to have a great day. Even if your child is crying, he will adjust better after you have left, and kindergarten teachers are used to dealing with first day tears at the beginning of the school year.
4. Teacher Communication 101
- If you have a question or concern, don't approach the teacher during the craziness of the drop off time in the morning. Send in a note or leave a phone message mentioning your reason for contacting her and let her know that you would like to meet with her to discuss it.
- Read all the notes and newsletters that come home from your child’s teacher and the school as soon as you get them. Keep a folder with important information about upcoming events, dates and notices so that all of that info is easily accessible. That way, if you have a question, you can start there.