How to help your kid with transitioning to kindergarten!
Transitioning to kindergarten is a big change, and maybe stressful for some children. Going from a small classroom to a bigger classroom and a more structured environment may not be easy. But there are ways you can help your child, and if you keep reading, we will show you 12 ways for a smoother transition to kindergarten.
Phase out nap time
In preschool kids usually get one or two nap time. But you would want to phase out nap time at least two to three weeks before start of kindergarten. To do this, keep your child busy during the day to avoid naps, and instead have an earlier bed time. The NSF advises that school-age children should sleep for a total of 9-11 hours every day. So if your child has to be up by 7 am to get ready for school, she should be in bed by 8 pm.
Set clear morning routines
When your child is in preschool, being late doesn't really matter and there are no consequences. But your child can't be late to kindergarten. Schools take tardies very seriously and your child would be marked tardy if he is not at school right on time. To take the stress of being late, set clear morning routines and practice it at least few times before schools start. Make sure your child will be having enough time to brush, get dressed, have breakfast and be at school at least 10 minutes before the school doors close.
Visit the School
To ease your child's anxiety, visit the school a few times before school starts, if possible. Some schools have transition programs a week or two weeks before the start of the school year. We highly recommend to register for the transition summer camp, if one is available at your school. If no such program is available, ask your school if you can visit the school to familiarize your child with his classroom, bathroom, lunchroom, cafeteria and everything your child needs to know for a smoother transition to kindergarten.
Set up play dates
If your child is not going to kindergarten with her friends from preschool, she may feel lonely the first week of school. To avoid this, try to find out who will be in her class, and set up play dates a few times before start of school. Start of a new school will be much easier for kids when they know other kids in their class.
Read back-to-school books
There are so many good books that help children with back-to-school jitters. Go to your public library and check out books and read together one or two weeks before schools start. See our list of "Back to School Books to Help Ease Your Kid's Anxiety" for some ideas.
Talk about feelings
Talk to your child to identify your child's big concerns about starting kindergarten. You may want to share stories about your own childhood when you were starting kindergarten to help your child to talk about his feelings. Ask open-ended questions and let your child tell you all his concerns. Let him know it is okay if he feels nervous. Share with him how you deal with your own stress so that he can learn how to cope from you.
Go over kindergarten skills
It can ease your child's stress, if she masters kindergarten skills if she already doesn't know them. Practice holding the pen, forming letters, cutting paper, writing her own name properly, and recognizing letters in alphabet. Remind your child that she is going to school to learn so it is okay not to know things, and if she needs help, she should ask for help.
Talk about following directions
At kindergarten your child suddenly needs to follow a lot of new rules and directions. Explain to your child how to follow the rules at school in the class, and when he is interacting with other kids. Role-play with your child.
Prepare a coping skills toolbox
Prepare a toolbox of collection of your kid's various favorites that she can take to school when she is feeling anxious. In the toolbox, you can put stuffed animal, stress ball, happy family picture, or anything that will help your child feel calm.
Teach your child how to make friends fast
Teach your child to practice introducing himself to other students. Give your child a few topics of conversation when meeting someone for the first time. A great conversation starter is to ask others about their favorite thing they did during the summer. Also remind your child that other kids are also anxious and by introducing himself, he will be helping them too.
Talk to your kid's teacher about any special needs
If you can meet and talk to your kid's teacher before the first day, talk about any special needs your child may have. You may also request for an IEP meeting with your child's teacher and school principal, if your child needs extra help at school. The sooner you start the process, the sooner you will be able to help your kid meet his needs.
Remind your child It’s okay to be afraid
Try to acknowledge your child’s fear as real and appropriate while offering reassurance. Make sure your child knows that you will be working with the teacher and school to make the transition as easy as possible. Explain to your child that every day, he would feel more comfortable at his new school, and soon he will be having lots of friends to play with, and his fear will soon disappear.