Preparing for Kindergarten can be exciting, emotional and perhaps a little scary – for parents and their pre-schoolers! It involves new routines, new expectations, new people and a certain leap of faith into the unknown. As someone who has been on the inside of Kindergarten classes and the other side of parking lot drop offs, here’s what I want every parent to know as they prepare their little ones (and themselves) for Kindergarten.
It’s totally fine if they can’t count or spell (yet).
I’ve seen parents stressed about sending children to Kindergarten without knowing their ABCs or how to count past five. Truthfully, it’s the practical skills that can make such a difference in their readiness and confidence. Before school starts, prioritize helping your child practice skills like opening their lunch containers, putting on their shoes and coat independently, and using the washroom neatly.
Parking lot tears are usually over by the time we get to the classroom.
Separation can be tough. It is completely normal for Kindergarteners to express sadness and emotions during drop-off. And, it can be even tougher for parents to leave when their child is in that state. Almost always, children are feeling better within minutes after some comforting words and reassurance.
Children learn and develop at a pace that is unique to them.
Comparing them to their siblings or other children in their class can cause unnecessary pressure and anxiety. Try not to push children to exceed curriculum expectations but to meet them with confidence, when they are ready. There is such a wide range of development and learning readiness in these early years, even amongst children born in the same year.
Routines matter, and can make life easier.
The first few months in a Kindergarten class are all about establishing routines. How we enter the classroom, learn together, get ready for recess, use the washroom, eat our healthy snacks first, and the list goes on. Routines help children process information and gain the experiences they need to grow more and more independent. Establishing (or keeping up) helpful routines at home including school night bedtimes can be helpful.
“After-school meltdowns” can happen (and are normal).
Your little one is spending a large portion of their day taking in all kinds of new routines and managing their behaviour in those first months of school. Coming home is stepping into their comfort zone where (like us), they can “let it all out.” They may need a cuddle, some quiet time, space to be “grumpy” for a few minutes or even just to flop onto the couch. Don’t be alarmed if you experience some after-school meltdowns, their frequency lessens as your child grows.
We are on the same team.
Try not to react defensively if your teacher makes suggestions or brings your child’s challenges to your attention.
Take a moment to process feedback from your teacher and respond appropriately. If something seems off or you don’t fully understand the feedback ask questions before making accusations. Everyone’s goal is to see your child grow and succeed.
We genuinely love being your child’s teacher!
We really do care (a lot) about your child. We love their personality, their sense of humour, discovering their unique gifts and we consider it a privilege to teach them. Having an authentic passion for teaching children is why I got into and remain in this profession. As you and your future Kindergartener prepare for the big “First Day”, I hope some reassurance is found in the knowledge that your Kindergarten teacher truly cares about your child!