Even though we’re just now wrapping up the school year, the kids will be headed back before you know it. A new school year is filled with excitement and opportunity, but it can also be a bit stressful if your child is going to be attending kindergarten for the first time.
Heading off to school for the very first time is a milestone moment not just for children, but for parents, too. Both can feel a bit of anxiety leading up to the big day, but there are many things parents can do to make the transition easier.
Transitioning a child from being home all day with either a parent or caregiver to heading off to school full time may sound challenging, but there are lots of things you can do over the summer to help prepare your child for their first day of school.
Encourage Their Social Skills
Kindergarten is where your child is going to first meet the children they are going to be interacting with on a daily basis. Much of kindergarten revolves around play based learning, so the children are encouraged to work together and actively participate in groups. Kindergarten is where many children will learn social skills that they will carry with them throughout life.
BabyCenter recommends helping to cultivate your child’s social skills before that first day when everything is so overwhelming. If you haven’t enrolled your child in a preschool, registering them in a local activity where they interact with other groups of children their age would be helpful. If they’re hesitant or shy you can practice helping them at home be more comfortable.
Prepare Them For The School Schedule
If you have a child who loves to lounge around in the morning, summer is the perfect time to get them used to the routine of getting up and getting ready for school. It’s incredibly important that children are given time to adjust to a new bedtime and wake-up routine. They’ll also need to know that there will be a structure and schedule at their school that they’re expected to follow.
According to The Conversation, changes in routines can have a negative effect on how well your child adjusts to kindergarten. Slowly preparing them during the summer for their new routine will help to ensure their comfort level when they begin school.
They also suggest talking often to your child about both what makes them excited for kindergarten and what is causing them any anxiety. That way you know how to ease their concerns before the school year starts.
Help Them Make Friends Ahead Of Time
Starting school for the first time can be very nerve wracking for a child, but it’s always made easier if they have a friendly face alongside them.
Parents Magazine recommends trying to introduce your child to future classmates over the summer, so when they start school they won’t be stepping in to a new situation by themselves. It’s not always easy to do this, especially if you’ve moved to a new area, but visiting local parks or enrolling in local activities are a great way for your child to meet potential classmates before the beginning of the school year.
Visit The School Ahead Of Time
If possible, take a trip to the school to visit the classroom and meet the teacher before the official first day. Many schools offer orientation days, and not only does this allow your child to see where they will be spending their days, it allows you to help them navigate the classroom. The Conversation suggests identifying where the bathroom is first and foremost. Many new students are shy to speak up, and if they don’t know where the bathroom is there may be an accident.
They suggest showing them where the bathroom is, how to open and close the door and let them practice flushing the toilets to get used to the noise. A classroom visit also allows your child to meet their teacher and possibly some classmates who may be doing the same thing.
Allowing your child a school visit ahead of their first official day of school will help to put them at ease on that first day because they’ll have some familiarity with their surroundings.
Practice With Dress Rehearsals
The summer is the perfect time to practice "dress rehearsals" with your child. Brightly suggests playing kindergarten at home, where you can help prepare your child for exactly what to expect during the school day. You can practice waking up and getting dressed on time, and you can practice proper behavior that will be expected at school as well.
Most of all it’s important to be positive and enthusiastic as you help your child prepare so they are looking forward to their first day of kindergarten.
One of the most important ways you can help your kindergartner prepare for their first year at school is to practice their skills at home.
Scholastic suggests that practicing how to correctly hold a pencil and how to identify letters are skills all parents can help their child with before their first day at kindergarten. Helping your child to hold scissors and work with glue and other tools they will be using in the classroom will be helpful.
Also encouraging them to know the proper behavior is important. They need to know that they must raise their hand to talk, and how to sit still while listening to the teacher.
The first day of school is exciting and a little nerve wracking for everyone, but preparing your child using these tips over the summer will definitely help make the first day run a little smoother.