1. Advocate for your Child:
Be clear about how the school’s culture and value system fall in line with your family’s culture and value system. If there are differences, think about how you can discuss the differences and predict for your child the differences and how to respond to them. Learn the school policies and advocate for your child by speaking to teachers or the directors on behalf of your child.
Trust that you chose the best place for your child at the time you enrolled him in Kindergarten. When asked what they want kindergarten parents to know, the most reply from kindergarten teachers were the following:
- All teachers have the best interests of the child at the core of their classroom.
- Think of your teacher as part of the team.
- If there happens to be a bump in the road this premise will lend itself to a problem solving approach vs a blame approach.
3. Visit the School and Meet the Teacher:
Attend the open houses for your school. Some public schools do not open their doors until after school begins- in that case, go to the school, take pictures and walk near and around the school with your child. Talk to them about the new building so that you can...
Narrate and Predict:
a. Why they are going to Kindergarten
b. How they will get to class.
c. Different feelings they may feel (e.g. Sad, Happy, Scared, Excited, Bored)
d. Tell them what they can do with those feelings when they are in school.
e. Tell them what will happen when they are picked up from school.
4. Start your school routine at least a week before:
Adjust the bedtime and wake time to reduce meltdowns and sleep deprivation (see schedule A below for appropriate sleep patterns in children in this age group). Prepare breakfast and practice dressing as you will the week school begins. At bedtime read books to your child and narrate and predict each day questions/comments c, d, e from above. Here is a list of books to read to your children about school:
- Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten, by Joseph Slate
- Pete the Cat, Rocking in My School Shoes, by Eric Litwin
- The Night Before Kindergarten, by Natasha Wing
- First Day Jitters, by Julie Danneberg
*all books available at bottom of page
5. Practice how/where you will do home learning*.
- Homework is the biggest area of concern for new kinderparents.
- Pick an area of your home where home learning will be done. Add your child’s favorite supplies along with the basics.
- Figure out what works for your family. Daily practice vs Saturday morning. Big cushy beanbag for reading vs desk and chair. Observe how your child does best. Let your child be involved.
- Did you know most Kinder teachers feel home learning should be short and sweet? If there is a struggle, make sure to include your teacher in the problem solving. Remember she is an important part of your team.
6. Create a transitional book with your child that you can read every day until school begins:
The book needs to narrate and predict what it will be like for them in school. It can be drawn with stick figures or put together with pictures. Be sure to involve your child in the creation process. You can have him do it in his new home learning area. Here are the sections needed for the book:
a. Tell the story of his past experiences with school or being taken care of by someone other than you.
b. Remind them what they felt in those past moments (happy, scared, silly, frustrated, excited).
c. Show the new setting and teacher information.
d. Predict how they might feel this time (scared, happy, excited, jittery, mad, etc.)
e. Show how/who will pick them up and bring them back home to safety-love.
f. Keep your language simple.
* Point #2 and #5 are recommendations given by our friend Nicole Santamaria OTR of Miami Handwriting
Your Child is socially and emotionally ready for Kindergarten if they have:
a Sense of self and able to handle autonomous tasks-
- Making choices/plans
- Solving problems
- Taking care of personal needs (eating, dressing, toileting alone)
Regulate their emotions the majority of the time by being able to have:
- frustration tolerance
- impulse control
- The ability to label and name their emotions
- The capacity to calm themselves down 4 out of 10 times when overwhelmed with emotion
SCHEDULE A- normative sleep schedule (taken from Weissbluth's, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
3-6 y.o. SLEEP PATTERNS
- 3-5 y.o. sleep a total of 11 to 12.5 hours in a 24 hour period
- 5-6 y.o. sleep a total of 11 to 12 hours in a 24 hour period
- 91% of 3 y.o. still have one nap lasting 1.5-2 hours
- 50% of 4 y.o. have one nap
- 25% of 5 y.o. nap
- naps are usually gone by age 6