Transitioning to Kindergarten

kindergarten.jpgAlthough the school year is just starting to wind down for many families, for others, the summer months represent a major change: the final phase before kindergarten. Today, Heather shares ideas for easing the transition to kindergarten, useful for extroverts and “shy bunnies” alike. Please leave a comment if you have other great tips to share!
From Heather:

“My first born, my sweet little girl will start Kindergarten this fall.

Emma is a shy bunny by nature and generally transitions very slowly to new situations. In fact, at the first mention of Kindergarten, her only comment was, 'No! I am not going!' Obviously, starting school will be a big transition for her so we have already started to prepare for this major life event. After soliciting advice from friends who have already made the leap to Kindergarten, the following are some things that we are doing, or plan on doing this summer, to ease this transition for Emma.

  • Visit the school before school starts. Take advantage of the required MA pre-screening as an opportunity to take a quick tour and check out the classroom, gym, library, and cafeteria. Even give the bathrooms a try. Bring a camera so your child can take pictures. Frequent the school playground on weekends.

  • Read and discuss books. I am a huge advocate of using books to stimulate conversation. We have taken a few Kindergarten books out of the library and recommend Annabelle Swift, Kindergartner by Amy Schwartz and Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate.

  • Plan play dates. Many schools will provide a class list upon request so that parents can schedule play dates. This is a terrific way for your child to get to know new classmates prior to school starting. Some schools like ours also host a summer event for incoming students and their parents.

  • Shop for school clothes and supplies. Let your child select a special item or two for school use like a backpack or lunch sack. Be sure to test these items yourself so you can be sure that they are easy to open and close.

  • Talk about what to expect. Emma does better in new situations when she knows what to expect. We talk about all the fun things she will learn and experience in Kindergarten as well as the class routine. Emma is comforted to know that that some routines, such as recess and story time, will be similar to what she experiences in preschool today.

  • Begin the morning routine a few weeks before school actually starts. We hope that practicing the morning routine will help to make the first days of school easier. Together we will make a list of what she will need to do in order to get to school on time: brush teeth, wash face, get dressed, eat breakfast, put on shoes, catch the bus, etc. Even consider making a dry run of the school bus route.

  • Practice goodbyes. Emma loves to role-play so I hope this actually works. We will plan what the two of us will say and do when it's time say goodbye. This worked well for preschool. At drop off just as I am about to leave, we dramatically run to each other for one more kiss and say at the same time, ‘One more kiss because we just can’t help it!’ I have also heard that if you give your child the job of (affectionately!) pushing you out of the room - or down the street if they take the bus – it literally puts control of the parting in their hands and makes the transition easier. Also, short and sweet goodbyes are typically best for everyone.”