Making the leap from pre-school to kindergarten is one of childhood’s most important milestones. It marks significant social and academic growth, as well as an increase in independence that is a big change for both parents and children. Kindergarten is usually a child’s first experience in a traditional classroom setting, and is most cases, it is the first time he or she rides a school bus. The good news is that most children are both ready and excited for this transition. However, it’s still a change in your child’s everyday routine that requires preparation. The tips below will help your preschooler transform to a kindergartener with as little stress as possible.
Encourage independence: Work with your child well before the start of kindergarten to make sure he/she can use the bathroom, wash her hands, and put on his coat, hat, and mittens independently. Although not expected at the kindergarten level, if your child can zip her jacket and tie his shoes, it’s a bonus. Don’t be discouraged if your child struggles with one or all of these things. The goal is progress, not perfection. Keep practicing, but don’t get stressed out.
Schedule summer play dates with children who will attend kindergarten with your child: Introduce your child to children who will attend kindergarten with him. It will be less stressful for your child if she knows other children who will ride the same bus or be in her class. It will also be helpful for you to know some of the other parents.
Talk about the bus ride: This is likely your child’s initial experience with group transportation. For the first time, he can’t ask the adult in the car for a Kleenex or to turn on the music, etc. Explain the proper way to behave on the bus, and make sure your child has the small things she needs (like Kleenex, hand sanitizer) in her backpack. Drive the bus route with your child a few times before the first day of school so he feels more comfortable with where the bus is going and how long the ride takes.
Start the new bedtime schedule a couple of weeks before school starts: Don’t wait until the start of school to implement a new nighttime routine. If you begin a couple of weeks ahead of time, the new routine will be old hat by the first day of school. In addition to making the process easier, it will be one less new thing for your family to deal with as kindergarten begins.
Don’t add too much at once: The start of kindergarten will bring many new opportunities for your child. After school activities like Daisy’s and Cub Scouts all offer new friends and experiences that will enrich both your child and your family. In the beginning, take it slow, only adding in a little at a time. Your child is sure to be tired as she attends a new school, makes new friends, and gets used to a much longer day. Give her time to adjust before filling up her schedule too much. You will soon learn how much activity you and your child can handle; it’s different for each child and for each family.
Most of all, enjoy this journey with your child, take lots of pictures, and have the cookies and milk ready to celebrate the first day of school!
Kelly McIntire is a children’s author who believes that magic and adventure should begin in childhood and last a lifetime. Her books include Time Twistedand Adventures in Fairy Meadow.
Visit her website at www.kellymcintireonline.com for more information, or follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/kellymcintirewriter/?ref=bookmarks