Preparing for Kindergarten #TeachMeTuesday by Talia Shapero
As the school year is coming to a close, many children and parents are being inducted into the new kindergarten program. Some families may have been given tours of their new school and others might have had a chance to spend time in their new classrooms. In any case, going to school for the first time can be a difficult transition for many parents and children. There is always a wave of both rational (and sometimes!) irrational fears. As an experienced kindergarten teacher, I’d like to share some useful tips about things you can do over the summer to help ease the transition to school in September.
Speak positively about school to your child. Children surprisingly pick up on the anxieties of their parents. If you maintain a calm and optimistic attitude about kindergarten, your child is more likely to see going to school as a norm and will likely feel more excited about it. You don’t need to make a big deal out of it, but throughout the summer, bring it up in casual conversation to give them some extra prep time to get used to the upcoming idea of school.
Continue to develop self-help skills at home. The start of kindergarten is all about settling into new routines and developing independent skills. By providing lots of opportunities for your child to dress and feed themselves, go to the bathroom, wash hands and tidy up independently, you are giving them a head start on skills that they will be refining and mastering at school. Children love routine and structure and feel proud when they are able to accomplish tasks independently. Ensuring that they have self-help skills will give them a boost in confidence upon entering school in September.
Continue the learning journey at home. Just because summer is here and you’re off on holidays or lazing about at the cottage, it doesn’t mean the learning has to stop! Take everyday opportunities to facilitate learning at home. Count the ducks you see swimming in the lake, look for letters on highway signs when travelling or experiment with water and sand play by the beach. It doesn’t need to be formal or even structured (kids need a break too) but if you continue the learning journey over the summer, school won’t be such a shock in September.
Communicate openly with your child’s teacher. If you are lucky enough to meet with your child’s new teacher, ask them any questions you may have and make sure that you constructively let them know about your concerns. Often parents fret but don’t always share their apprehensions. If you have any concerns speak to your child’s teacher first. Teachers are there to support both children and parents in the kindergarten induction process. By starting off with open levels of communication, you are more likely to develop a trusting and supportive partnership.
Entering kindergarten is an exciting time in yours and your child’s life. Stay positive, allow for an adjustment period and communicate openly with your school and the prospect of starting kindergarten may not appear to be so daunting after all.
Talia Shapero is an experienced dual qualified teacher in Ontario and the UK who has a passion for early years education. She is co-founder of the Smart Cookie Club, a holistic, play-based learning program for toddlers and preschoolers and their parents and nannies.
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