By Kelly Sipe
Robert Fulghum wrote “Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” Take a moment to read all of the life skills that are taught in kindergarten. And, on top of all that, children are expected to grow academically, master fine motor skills, navigate through social dynamics and make friends. These children will also have a variety of specialist teachers (art, music, P.E., etc), in addition to their classroom teachers.
Kindergarten is as big as any major life transition. Here are some things you should expect, and things you can do to make the transition successful for both you and your child…
If your child comes home from school and expresses anxiety and/or fatigue please know that this is normal. It typically takes children a full 4-6 weeks to acclimate themselves to their new routine. Quality teachers (and programs) pace their kindergarten curriculum with this in mind.
Over the next few weeks expect that you will communicate frequently with your child’s teacher to make this a smooth transition for everyone. If your child’s school doesn’t already offer beginning of the year conferences, you can request one. As a kindergarten teacher, these early conferences are incredibly valuable. They allow for the assistant teacher and myself to get to know the families and learn about the child. It allows parents the opportunity to begin building a relationship with the teacher and to learn first hand what the teacher’s expectations are.
It will also be important to attend your school’s Parents’ Night. The kindergarten year is full of wonder, excitement, growth, independence and friendship. It is one of the most important and special stages of your child’s life. In helping to make the start of kindergarten as smooth as possible, here are a few things you can do at home:
-Limit after school activities (even play dates should be limited or postponed for the first few weeks).
-Maintain a regular and early bedtime.
-Eat a good breakfast and send healthy choices for morning snack (protein foods are perfect!).
-Allow quiet time every day .. time for you and your child to talk about the day without the distractions of television, video games, etc.
-Help your child to articulate his/her feelings so that they can better understand what they are feeling/experiencing.
-Give lots of hugs and encouragement … remain positive, even if you are anxious and overwhelmed yourself (I say this because I admit to being an anxious Mom myself!).
-Connect with a first grade parent, who has made this kindergarten transition with their own child in the not so distant past.
-Although anxiety and fatigue is completely normal and expected, these feelings are very real to your child. Allow your child to walk through these emotions, with adult support, so he/she will gain the confidence and the necessary tools they will need to make kindergarten the wonderful journey it is intended to be!
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