If your child is starting kindergarten next year, he’s probably just had his orientation day at his new school. How did it go? Did your child leave without hesitation, excited and ready for the next big adventure? Or did he cry and didn’t want to let you go?
Both kinds of behaviour or anything in between are completely normal and they don’t mean that your child is ready (or not) for school. School is a big transition for anyone. Most kids will experience some anxiety, but there are things you can do between now and when school starts to make sure your child gets the best start possible.
Be positive, but not over the top
If you’re worried about school, your child will be worried, too. Instead of sharing your doubts, always talk about school in a positive way, but without too much hype. Don’t make it sound like this is the biggest, most amazing event that will ever happen in your child’s life. Too much of a good thing can be stressful, too.
Get familiar with the school
Walk or drive past the school several times and attend as many orientation days as possible. If there’s a playground at your school, maybe, you can go there for a play in the afternoon. It makes a big difference when the child is coming into a familiar environment associated with previous positive experiences.
Develop social skills
Allow your child to spend time with other kids regularly, so that he can learn to make friends, play together and resolve conflicts. If your child doesn’t go to day care or preschool, organise play dates, join a playgroup or encourage play with other kids at local parks. This way you may meet other kids that will go to the same school and it always helps to have a familiar face around. If your child hasn’t been away from you much, organise for someone else to look after him a few times.
Develop practical skills
Get your child to practice opening and closing his lunch box and drink bottle, get dressed, put on his shoes. Most kindergarten teachers are very gentle and caring, but they have a lot of kids to look after and may not be able to get to everyone, especially if your child is shy and reluctant to ask for help at first.
Reading, writing and numbers
Social and practical skills are far more important than literacy when your child is starting school. It helps if your child can write his name and recognise most of the letters and numbers, but don’t stress about it too much, that’s what kids learn at school. What’s important is to read with your child regularly. It develops his language, teaches your him to pay attention and fosters a love of reading.
Your child may take to school like a duck to water or it may take a while and don’t be distressed if school love doesn’t happen immediately. My daughter is finishing kindergarten now and she was a very reluctant student for the first few months of the year. Recently I asked her what three things make her happy and going to school was the first answer she came up with.
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