Helping Your Child Enter Kindergarten
Every year, a new group of children enters school for the first time. This is a big transition for five- and six-year-olds, whether they’ve spent the last few years attending preschool, child care, or staying home with a parent or sitter. The thrill of going to “big kid school” can be exciting, challenging, scary and confusing all at once. Children usually pick up on their parents’ attitudes so you can help by talking about school in a positive way. This handout will give you tips on how you can prepare your children for kindergarten – along with ideas to help new kindergarteners thrive in school.
What to do Before School Starts
Preparing children ahead of time calms fears of the unknown and helps make the transition easier on children and parents alike. Share stories about your own kindergarten days – if you can still remember them! Reading books to your child about what kindergarten is like and how other youngsters deal with the kindergarten jitters can help your child get ready for the big day. See the book list on the back page for suggestions.
Find out if other children in your neighborhood will be attending your child’s school and arrange some playdates before school starts. Your child will share school experiences with some new friends. If you have access to a computer, many schools have Internet clubs that you can join, either started by a neighborhood group or by the school’s PTA. Ask your school administrators if this is so, and find out how to sign up. This is a great way to stay informed about school activities and who’s available for playdates. If your school is having a carnival or hosting a performance, bring your child and enjoy the event together.
Introduce Your Child to the New School – Ask your school principal if you can visit the school before classes begin. Practice the trip to school several times. With the principal’s permission, let your child play in the playground. Find out where the bathrooms are. Show your child the kindergarten classrooms and the principal’s office. See if it’s possible to meet the teachers, the principal and the school secretary. This applies to all school-age children. Even second and third children who have visited their older siblings at school need to know where their new classrooms are.
Getting There – If your child will be taking the bus, make sure s/he knows to stay seated and to talk quietly during the bus ride. In the spring, practice walking to the bus stop and watching kids get on and off the bus. You can relieve some anxiety by giving your child a card with the correct stop written on it to show the teacher or driver, should panic strike.
If you’re driving your child to school, find out where the drop-off zones are and use them to avoid unsafe crossings. Typically, cars can only stop briefly in the drop-off area to let children out. If you want to park your car to accompany your child into the school, make sure to allow enough time to find a parking place. If you’re biking or walking to school, find the safest route and practice it before school starts.
Plan What Will Happen Each Day After School – Will you pick up your child or will s/he attend an after-school program at the school or at another location? If you need after-school care, make arrangements ahead of time. Call BANANAS, 658-0381, for free referrals to after-school programs in your area. See our handouts: Choosing Schoolage Child Care, and What Schoolage Children Need in Child Care, available at our office, by mail or from our website.
Reprinted with the permission of BANANAS, Inc. © 2007 BANANAS
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