With Labour Day approaching and the cooler weather creeping up, for a lot of our families, this means it’s time to start preparing for kindergarten. The idea can be daunting to parents, but even more so for preschoolers. The key to a successful transition, not only during the day but especially into kindergarten is establishing a routine and offering children a predictable schedule they can rely on.
The predictability and reliability of a schedule and plan helps alleviate anxiety associated with the unknown. Here are some helpful tips to begin the transition:
A few weeks before the start of school, begin to implement a bedtime and morning routine. In addition, decide on a bedtime ritual that is visual and concrete for children. In daycare, caregivers incorporate many pictorial schedules for children, to understand the daily schedule, routines and expectations for the day. At home, put little stickers on a clock that note the bedtime routine. For example, lay out clothes at 6:55PM, bath at 7:00PM, brush teeth at 7:30, story time at 7:35PM, bed at 7:45PM. Do the same for the morning. Having a plan will create much less stress for everyone.
Another way to make the transition to kindergarten a fun experience, encourage responsibility by assigning daily chores. Model the proper way to carry out each task and perhaps create a job chart, adding a sticker for each chore completed. Possible jobs for the children might include: pet feeder, table wiper, toy organizer, trash helper, table setter etc.
Shopping for school supplies can prove to be fun way to include children in the prep. This will allow children to feel like they're making important decisions and having a say in their preparation for kindergarten. Having a choice between the polka dot and striped pencil case will foster a child that is excited and feeling autonomous in the classroom.
Also, in preparation, encourage children to practice school skills. Because the lunch routines may differ in school, from those at the daycare that is catered, children will benefit from practicing to open and close a lunchbox and thermos, open juice boxes/pouches and milk cartons, properly wash their hands, complete toilet needs independently. All these skills will build a confident, independent kindergartener.
The transition from preschool to kindergarten can be a stressful time for both children and parents. However, the key is a collaboration between parents, caregivers and kindergarten; and familiarizing children with the workings of kindergarten will ease the process.