My son is only days away from his first day of kindergarten. He is excited but a little nervous. I am confident that he will be able to start off his public school career with a bang and not a whimper because I have done a great deal to prepare him for this exciting new event.
Granted my child has a head start over some kindergarten students because he attended preschool, but even so I took five key steps to help him make the transition to a new school, new teacher, and new experience. These five steps can help parents prepare their new kindergarten student for this important life event.
Introduce The Space
I took advantage of every opportunity offered to bring my son into the building where he will attend school. We toured his classroom and the building, attended the kindergarten open house, and every time we had to bring paperwork to submit I made sure to bring my son as well. Long before the start of school my son knew which school would be his when he started kindergarten. Long before the first day my son was familiar with his classroom and the basic layout of the building.
Introduce Key People
Make sure that your child has a chance to meet her teacher before school begins. Simply having one familiar face on the all-important first day will make a big difference. If your child will ride the bus then try to introduce her to the bus driver as well. Attend your school’s open house or visit the building before the first day to also introduce other key teachers and staff members such as the nurse, librarian, principal, etc. The more people who are friendly, smiling and familiar when school starts then the less intimidating school will be to a young child.
Find Some Friends
My son didn’t want to say good-bye to his preschool and move on to kindergarten and elementary school. However when I pointed out the number of his friends who would attend his new school he started to get interested. When he went for kindergarten screening one of the screeners included a friend from church who is also one of his Sunday School teachers. Soon I could point out even more teachers that he would know as well as how many students are familiar and he soon forgot his reluctance to attend the new school. By the time it he attended kindergarten open house he knew that one of his friends had the same kindergarten teacher and that an older friend had the same teacher a few years before. On the night of open house he was soon meeting his future classmates and playing together like old friends.
Go Over The Schedule
While I don’t know a minute-by-minute plan for his kindergarten day, I do know from talking with school officials and his teacher approximately how my son’s day will go. I have gone over the big picture scenario with him several times. I don’t expect him to memorize his schedule even to remember much of the detail. But I know that he likes to have an idea of how his future will unfold. This same child always asks for directions when we are going on a trip even though he is 11 years away from driving.
Introducing your child to the main events of the day will help take some of the fear and uncertainty out of those first days of school when so much is strange and unfamiliar.
Make Up Some Guidelines
Starting school will mean your child is likely inundated with a long list of new rules governing their behavior, their schedule, and their education. It can be rather overwhelming for young children. While my son is learning the specifics, I gave him these three broad guidelines to help him make better decisions about how he should behave in school:
1. Listen to his teachers
2. Be kind to others
3. Try his best
Really, all the other rules he will encounter in school will simply be refinements of these three basic rules.
Use these five simple steps to prepare your child for kindergarten and to ease the transition into school life.