The beginning of kindergarten is a significant milestone for children and their parents.
As parents, there are many things you can do to support your child’s smooth transition into the school system. The following are some tips to help prepare your child for kindergarten.
1. Know your school: Play in the school playground regularly and make the schoolyard a destination for a family picnic during the summer. Familiarity with the school grounds will help your child feel safe, comfortable and connected with their school.
2. Leave your child: Full-day kindergarten is more than six hours long. Especially if your child has never attended a daycare or preschool, practise leaving them with a trusted adult and slowly increase the amount of time they are away from you. The school day feels particularly long for children who have never been separated from their parents for a full day.
3. Promote independence: Don’t do tasks for your child that they can do for themselves. Provide them with opportunities to be responsible for their own belongings, such as carrying their own backpack, tidying up toys, hanging up coats and belongings, dressing themselves, etc. Praise them for all tasks they complete without support.
4. Practise personal hygiene: Your child needs to be able to use the bathroom and wash their hands independently.
5. Practise changing clothes: Select clothing that is easy for your child to put on and take off independently. They will need to be able to put on and do up their own coats and to change their shoes from “outside shoes” to “inside shoes.”
6. Learn play skills: Practise taking turns and learning to lose games. Learning to play with others and to make compromises, such as letting the other person choose the activity, can be difficult for many four- and five-year-olds.
7. Practise following directions: Give your child plenty of opportunities to follow oral directions “on first ask” so they are ready to pay attention and follow the instructions of the teacher. Provide lots of praise for tasks completed promptly.
8. Practise eating a packed lunch: Pack food for the day in the lunch bag and containers that you will be providing for your child when they are at school. Clarify where their “snack” will be and where the lunch items will be. Have your child practise opening and sealing the containers. Provide plenty of healthy food choices. Fruits and vegetables, cheese and crackers, deli meats, sandwiches, and wraps cut into bite-sized pieces are ideal for school. You can also choose to send warm soups, pasta and rice dishes in a thermos.
9. Read to your child: There are many books and stories available at your local library about going to school.
10. Leave with a smile: Parents can be very emotional on their child’s first day of school. If you are calm, happy, and encouraging and demonstrate confidence in your child’s readiness for school, they will be more likely to head into the classroom with a smile.
Deborah Wanner is the District Principal of Enhanced Programs at the North Vancouver School District.
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