Even if your child has been in daycare or preschool for some time, starting kindergarten is a big step! It's also a pretty big change and transition, and you can expect to hit some bumps in the road initially. It's quite the adjustment for everyone involved, and you and your new kindergarten student may need some time to get used to this new stage. Here's what you can expect when it's time for your child to start kindergarten.
Separation in kindergarten kids is very common! They may have breezed through preschool or daycare drop-offs without a single tear. But in kindergarten, they're starting at a new school, with new teachers, new friends, and likely longer hours. It's an unknown world, and kids can have a hard time feeling comfortable in it the first couple of weeks. If your child cries at drop-off, it doesn't mean they don't want to go to school - it just means that they're unsure and a bit scared of this new place and experience. Kindergarten teachers are well-versed in dealing with separation anxiety, so try not to worry. Say your goodbyes at the door, and chances are your child will be tear-free and playing happily within minutes of you leaving.
Your kiddo, who's been potty-trained for two years, is suddenly having accidents or holding it for long periods of time. What gives?! Kinder is a whole new potty game, and some kids have a harder time adjusting to it. There are fewer scheduled potty breaks, the bathroom might be farther away, or they might not like that the bathrooms aren't very private or there's no one there to help them wipe. Practice good potty habits with your child at home - have them go to the bathroom on their own, practice wiping, and make sure they can unfasten and refasten their pants on their own. Help them understand that it's OK to tell their teacher or class helper that they need to use the bathroom.
You painstakingly prepare the cutest lunch ever for your kindergarten kid, only to have it come back home almost entirely uneaten - totally common! Kids need to learn how to focus at lunch time, and use their limited time wisely. The cafeteria or kinder room is loud and bustling, and they're not given a lot of time to eat. Again, practice eating lunch with your child at home, so they can figure out how to manage their time. Don't send items that might be hard to open, and it can help to send small, snack-type foods that they can easily eat while socializing, and that can be eaten quickly. Talk to them about the importance of eating enough during the day, and let them know that while it's fine for them to talk and play with their friends during this time, they also have to remember to eat at the same time.
Remember - there's no napping in kindergarten! Even if your child attended an all-day preschool or daycare program, their day was likely not as full and busy as it will be in kinder. Teachers have limited instruction time, and they use every minute they have, so there's not a lot of time to rest. Plus, in most cases, kindergarten is more focused on lessons and academics than play, which can be taxing on little minds. They're doing a lot in kinder, so don't be surprised when they come home completely and utterly exhausted.
Everyone Is Going To Get Sick
New school, new kids - new germs! The start of the school year is always an exciting time, but it's also when kids seem to catch a cold that lasts for months. While you most likely won't always be able to keep them from catching whatever is going around, you can work with your kindergarten student on practicing good habits and hygiene to keep the germ-swapping at a minimum. Make sure they know how to wash their hands properly and thoroughly, with soap and warm water, and make sure they know to wash their hands before and after eating and after using the bathroom. Teach them to cough or sneeze into their elbow, rather than into their hands. If the classroom has hand sanitizer for the kids to use, show your child how to pump some in their hand and rub it in. Or send a small bottle in their backpack to use. And as always, make sure they're eating well and getting plenty of sleep.