This week our media coordinator, Dani Rose Thibus, spoke with WUOT about how to help families who have children entering kindergarten this fall prepare over the summer. You can also listen to the interview, by following this link or read on to see what the ELC staff recommends.
- Don’t overemphasize the transition
- Overhyping the move to “big” school often creates more anxiety than excitement for young children. So, while we would never suggest ignoring the upcoming transition, we also think it’s best to talk with kids about what’s coming next for them in a way that is truthful, supportive, and calm.
- Share realistic expectations for school
- Children need us to be honest with them and it’s not fair to tell children that school will be fun all of the time, every day. School is hard work for lots of children- even kindergarten! There are new expectations and often pretty high demands for their attention and productivity. That can be stressful and sometimes not all that much fun for a young child, so it might be helpful to say things like “You are going to have lots of fun at school and some things might be hard. But, you can do hard things!”
- Your child’s kindergarten teacher will likely spend time on expectations and procedures during their first few visit days or in the early days of kindergarten, but it could be helpful for parents to give children examples of what to say when they need to go to the bathroom, how to find out when snack/lunch times will be, and what they’ll do when school is over (get on a school bus, go to aftercare, get in a car line, etc). Knowing what to expect makes a big difference!
- Spend the summer cultivating curiosity
- Dig into the things your child is curious about and explore! Help your child develop some theories to investigate and keep track of those explorations together. A study published by the University of Michigan found that the more curious the child, the more likely he or she may be to perform better in school. It is an interesting read and curiosity is something we are always working to cultivate in children and teachers at the ELC.
- Play together
- Relish in what tends to be a bit slower season in the summer. Play outside, play card and board games together, do puzzles… Anything that you enjoy doing as a family, spend some time doing those things before school starts and schedules get a little more crazy for your littles.
- Arrange some get-togethers outside of summer camp or child care with families you know will be attending kindergarten with your child. Providing experiences where children can develop a connection with others that will be around their school can help them feel connected.
- It’s always, always a good idea to read with your child, regardless of how old they are. Head to the library and pick out books your child wants to read and perhaps some books about school. A favorite amongst ELC kindergarteners is Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, but there are 100s to choose from.
- Go visit the school
- You may not be able to go visit inside the school, but even taking a walk through the parking lot and checking out the outside could help give your child some context for where they’ll be heading for kindergarten.
- Prepare yourselves as parents
- The transition to school is often tougher on parents than it is on children! Talk with other parents about things that were tough for them when their child entered school and make some plans for how you might handle those things if they happen to you. There is lots of information out there on the internet about this tender time, so if you’re curious, do a little research online.
- This time can be tough for kiddos, so preparing yourself to be their advocate is a good idea. Early on in the school year, build a relationship with your child’s teacher, even if the only way to do that is through email. Schedules are tricky and tough, so face-to-face chatting, though preferable, is not always an option. If your child needs something in particular, having a relationship with the teacher makes a big difference when problem-solving needs to happen. Don’t be afraid to speak up for your kiddo!
If you want to learn more about the Early Learning Center’s kindergarten program, follow this link.