This post originally appeared as an article in the Monaro Post newspaper. Tavia Taylor is a Kindergarten teacher. She has welcomed many children to Big School.
Starting Kindergarten is a monumental milestone in any child’s life. It also presents a big change for parents too. You may feel excited, nervous, or even overwhelmed, but your child’s first day of school will have many special moments. The moment when you see your child in their uniform for the first time, wearing a big happy smile. The moment they move easily from your arms into a classroom activity. The moment when you walk away, feeling confident that your child has settled well.
But how do you get to that point? How can you, as the parent, ensure this positive transition happens? These are my tips for helping your child start school:
- Visit the School
Your child will experience many new things on their first day of Kindergarten. Visiting the school to exploring the grounds and classroom will help them to feel comfortable in their future learning environment. Organize a meeting with their future teacher too. This will allow you to get to know the person who will be caring for your child, and allow child and teacher to build a rapport.
- Make New School Friends
Introduce your child to their new social circle through a transition program. Run in Term 4 of the proceeding school year, transition programs provide a welcome introduction to Big School for both child and parent. They allow children to interact with their soon-to-be fellow students and make new friends, and give you the opportunity to meet other parents who will be feeling the same emotions!
Develop a relationship with your child’s teacher. Allow them to help you through this transition stage. If your child does become tearful at drop-off, the Kindergarten teacher can be a reassuring presence and encourage them to join an activity, or find a friend. Having met and developed a relationship with the Kindergarten teacher also means that you can walk away, confident that your child is in a safe and caring environment.
- Practice Routines
In addition to the social aspect, a transition program is also the perfect way to introduce your child to the rhythms and routines of school life. Prepare recess and lunch together before the program and then after the learning and play is done, ask your child about their day. Help your child get school-ready by encouraging them to pack their own bag, and recognize their name on clothing and stationary. Practice putting on jumpers and jackets, but don’t worry… The Kindergarten teacher is always there to help!
School is a big deal, and learning new things take lots of energy! Your child may be tired and emotional at the end of the day. The NSW Education Standards Authority explains that “learning new routines, meeting new people, playing and learning to adjust to a new environment are all very tiring for children”. Be prepared for your child to want to rest after school, especially for the first few weeks.
Each new learner and their family will face a unique set of challenges as they enter into the bright new world of Kindergarten. Take steps to support your child, so that you can both feel confident and secure during the transition into school. Both you and your budding learner can look forward to a successful drop-off on the first day of Kindergarten!