The move from home or child care into kindergarten is a significant milestone in a childs life. As a parent or carer you’re called upon to help your child succeed by preparing them for emotional challenges as well as the inevitable academic challenges. Partner with your child to ensure they are emotionally ready for the transition to kindergarten by encouraging skills such as independence, self-discipline, cooperation and following directions.
Your child might not handle the transition to kindergarten the same way their friend or sibling does. While one child happily goes off for a day at kinder, another child clings to you and cries. If your child tends to be anxious, particularly when they separate from you, encourage their independence even before the year begins. Have them spend time on a play date, with an extended family member or with a trusted sitter. Invite them to talk about how they feel when they are away from you. Reassure them by saying “I understand that you miss me, I miss you too.” Offer to do something together when they get home. Let them know you’re confident in their ability to succeed as independent beings.
There are times when kindergarten requires that children follow rules, directions and instructions. Your child will work on skills such as cooperation and taking turns. This is a process and your child will continue to grow in self-discipline as the years progress. Help your child understand positive behaviour by modelling respect for others in your own interactions with children and other adults. Be patient and don’t talk disrespectfully to them or others. Be clear and firm when reminding them that they must do the same. Encourage your child to practice using manners, please and thank you and to stay at the dinner table until everyone is finished.
Getting Along With Others
Discuss with your child how it feels to get along with others. Remind them that, “we feel good about ourselves when we play in a friendly way with our friends.” Talk about things that make it difficult to get along with others. Maybe your child wants to use a toy that their friend also wants to play with – Brainstorm a list of family rules for getting along such as, “listen when your friends talk”, “use gentle hands and listening ears” and “sharing our toys feels good.” Encourage them to discuss ideas on how to participate in a cooperative way with others.
Families can share many activities with their children to increase school readiness. Spend time playing with your child and offer lots of physical affection. Develop and follow a routine for your family, with timelines for meals, baths and sleep time. Talk to your child and encourage them to ask questions. Provide opportunities for your child to practice social skills through play activities. Encourage them for behaviours that show courtesy and respect by acknowledging their efforts. Promote independence by assigning simple chores such as getting dressed, clearing dirty dishes and picking up toys. Remember to thank them for their contributions.