With summer quickly coming to an end, many parents and Kindergarteners may be worried about starting school. Kindergarten is a huge milestone in a child’s life. The first day can be stressful and scary, and of course we want to ease the transition as much as possible. For our Back to School series we’ve provided tips for preparing your child for kindergarten.
If your school district allows, visit the school ahead of time. A new school can often seem big and scary to a small child. Getting familiar with the layout, the halls and the classrooms can ease the child’s anxiety.
Be sure to explain what kindergarten will be like, and discuss what will be expected of them. Make sure they know their teachers name. Tell them they will learn lots of new things such as how to read and write. Let them know they will have the opportunity to make new friends. Be sure to let them know that everyone in the class will be just as nervous and excited as they are. Everyone in the class is in the same boat. Most of all make Kindergarten sound exciting and fun.
Tell some social stories where the main character is the child, and what the child does in different situations like needing to use the bathroom, not knowing the directions, sitting next to someone who has trouble sharing. This will give a knowledge base when dealing with some of the things that might happen in school.
To help ease some anxiety there are several books you can read such before school starts. Some favorites among teachers are The Kissing Hand, Mrs. Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten, and The Night Before Kindergarten.
See if you can find any children that will be either on their bus or in their class. Plan playdates with children you know of before school starts. Often having a familiar face is enough to ease the anxiety and fear and allow for a great first day.
If your child has food allergies or special needs that would requires attention, be sure to set it up ahead of time with the district. This will ensure a safe and easier day for you and your child.
Start getting a morning routine down. Have them get up at the time they would need to on a school day. Have them get dressed and eat breakfast at the same time everyday. You can even practice leaving the house, putting on shoes, grabbing lunch and book bag, walking to the bus stop for a practice run for school.
Look up the kindergarten Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) and familiarize yourself and your child with the academic expectations. This will help you understand what your child will be expected to accomplish throughout the year. Kindergarten is far from what is was in the past with many more demands and much more instruction in the classroom. The days of nap time are behind us. The New York Department of Education website has links to the standards and other beneficial resources on the common core standards. You can download the Common Core Standards App right on your iPhone for easy reference.
Be sure plan something fun for yourself, too! The transition into Kindergarten is often harder on you than your child.
By Tara Arichabala
Photos by Tara Arichabala