Starting kindergarten can be exciting or scary, thrilling or intimidating, a new adventure or an anxiety-inducing occasion – and it all depends upon how parents and caregivers help our children prepare for this momentous day.
At Bay Street Pediatrics, we know that kindergarten is an important transition. While your child may be accustomed to being away from you all day, kindergarten is a different environment from preschool, day care or a babysitter. Your child, at five to almost six years old, is also now experiencing a great deal of cognitive and emotional growth.
What’s the big deal about kindergarten?
At kindergarten age, children are learning to self-regulate their emotions and handle situations without adult intervention. They are learning how to interact with their peers and form friendships with other children who will likely be with them throughout their academic career.
The week before kindergarten is time to make sure that your child knows how loved and cherished they are so they walk into school on that first day with all the confidence possible. Part of growing their confidence is making sure they know what to expect and giving them control over as many decisions as possible.
Your medical professionals at Bay Street Pediatrics are here to help both your child and you make the transition to kindergarten smoothly. We have five general tips to make the kindergarten experience happy and healthy.
- Visit the school before the first day
If the school sponsors a “Meet the Teacher” day before the first day of school, be sure to attend with your child. This opportunity may allow parents to bring all needed school supplies to the classroom so children avoid the stress of an overloaded backpack on the first day. It also allows children to meet their teacher in the company and security of their parents, tour the classroom, ask questions, and feel comfortable. This day is also an opportunity for children to meet their classmates and perhaps recognize friends from the neighborhood.
If “Meet the Teacher” day is not available or you are unable to attend, email the principal and the teacher to ask if there is a day that you and your child can have a guided tour of the school and classroom.
- Speak to the teacher directly and privately to discuss concerns.
When you have specific questions or concerns that pertain to your child, it’s best to address those privately. Email your child’s teacher to schedule a call or set up a meeting to inform them of any issues that may impact your child’s academic, developmental or social success. Your child’s teacher will be happy to answer your questions and to receive any insight into your child’s personality to help them enjoy a rewarding school year.
Please do not ask these questions during group or public events. These are hectic times for a teacher, and you will not have their undivided attention.
- Enlist the help of your child getting school supplies together.
School supplies might be the biggest excitement for kindergarteners. Bring your child with you to the store or ask for their input as you search online for their school supplies. Let them select their backpack and lunchbox. Giving your child as much choice as possible gives them confidence and a feeling of control.
- Practice routines as much as possible before school starts.
Getting into a school routine before school starts is helpful for the whole family. The week before school, practice as much as possible:
- Pack their backpack the evening before
- Wake up on schedule
- Get ready in a timely manner
- Practice the route to the school or bus stop
These rehearsals will help you identify kinks in your schedule, giving you time to adjust before school begins, reducing stress and anxiety.
If your child is eating lunch at school, practice eating lunch out of their lunch boxes. They should be confident in opening everything on their own and how to pack it all back up at the end of lunch. Confirm how much time your child will have for lunch and practice eating in that amount of time. Make sure your child understands that eating their whole lunch will help them focus and self-regulate in the afternoon without the distraction of being hungry.
- Attend Back To School or Curriculum Night
After classes begin, your school may host a “Back to School” or “Curriculum” night for parents to meet other educators your child may interact with throughout the week, such as music, art, or physical education teachers. You may also review the general curriculum and the expectations teachers have of their students. This event is informative and will give you an idea of what your child is experiencing daily. When possible, please attend this important night.
As your child grows, Back to School Night will become even more important. Make attending these events an annual ritual, so teachers understand you are engaged, concerned and involved with your child’s education.
Set Your Child and Yourself Up for Success in Kindergarten
Kindergarten is an important year for your child. They will learn the basics of letters and numbers for a strong academic foundation. They will discover how to be a good friend, establishing strong relationships outside of family. They will gain independence away from their primary caregivers, a transition that is just as significant for your child as it is for you as a parent. They will discover a lot more about themselves – their likes and dislikes, their strengths and their own personalities.
Set your family up for a successful school year with advanced planning and practice. Above all, make sure you spend patient time with your child to build their confidence. Self confidence is the most important “school supply” of all.
Do you have questions about kindergarten readiness? Just message us through your patient portal. At Bay Street Pediatrics, we are happy to help!