Sending Your Child Off to Kindergarten: Are They Prepared?
So Many Questions
Starting kindergarten is a scary prospect for most parents, and even more so, for their children. Is my child ready? Am I ready? What do I need to do? What does my child need to know? These questions, and so many more, are going to go through the mind of a parent as they prepare to send their child off for their first day of school.
It is a hard thing to deal with. It is hard to see your child growing up, becoming more independent, and needing you less and less. It is also very hard on the child. Children often have a hard time letting go. School is a very different environment for a child and can be a very scary place.
Take some time with your child to help prepare them for the momentous task ahead. It will help them out greatly. There are many things you can do to get yourself, and your child, ready for the transition to kindergarten.
The basic preparations are pretty easy and straightforward. Make sure that your child is registered for school; find out what your school requires for registration. Does your child need a physical? Does she need any immunizations before she can start? These are easy things to take care of.
Get the school supply list from the school at registration, or from your local discount store. Most stores have displays at the front of the store starting around the end of July, with school supply lists for every grade at every school in the area. Shop around for bargains. Some stores offer great back to school sales that will save you a bundle on school supplies.
Keep everything together that your child will need. That will make it easier once that day comes. Having everything packed and ready to go ahead of time saves headaches and the worry of lost supplies. Include your child in this process. Show them all the new things that they will be taking to school with them, and let them help pack up their backpack. This will make them feel as if they are a part of getting ready, and will give them a sense of accomplishment.
Like I said, this is the easy part. Preparing your child educationally and emotionally is much harder. But, I have learned a few tips and tricks that may make it a little easier. When the time came, it was much easier on my daughter than it will be on me.
Get Ready For Kindergarten
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Learning the A B C's
What does a child need to know in order to start kindergarten? Well, this varies from state to state, and country to country. The requirements for a child entering kindergarten are not extraordinarily high. Kids need to know the basics.
The basics are pretty much anything they would have learned up to that point. Most kids know their letters, their numbers, counting, colors, shapes, and things like that. Some kids learn faster than others. Some kids know how to read before they enter school. Some kids can do basic math. Find out at least a year ahead of time what the requirements your school has on kids starting kindergarten and go from there.
Spend time reading to your child. Spend time playing games that challenge your child. I often worked learning activities into little games that I played with my daughter. When she was an infant, I would point things out to her, telling her what they were, what color they were, or point out letters on signs.
As she got older, it became more of a game. I would ask her what color something was, or what letter was on the sign. She would sometimes start the game, with no prompting from me. She would point to a sign and read the letters or numbers out loud to me. It was fun for her.
I worked with my daughter on reading skills, teaching her letters, having her write her letters and numbers, and playing games that reinforced what she had learned and was learning. Candyland is a great game for children at preschool and kindergarten age, because it teaches colors, numbers and counting.
Learning should be fun!! Children all the way from birth to an early school level learn through play. They learn through activities that grab their attention and spark their interest. They learn life roles, and behavior through imaginative play. If you feel your child has an area they need work on, find a way to make a game out of it. If your child is having trouble learning their letters, make a game that uses letters and offers a reward for doing a good job. Bingo is a great game that reinforces number and letter recognition, and offers rewards to the winner.
With a little time and effort, your child will be prepared to take on the educational tasks ahead of them. Making learning fun will foster a love of learning and will excite them about getting the chance to go to school and learn more.
Transition to Kindergarten
The Struggle With Independence
The struggle with independence is one shared by parent and child. Letting go of your child, even just a little bit, can be scary. You have spent the past five years raising this child, teaching him, loving him, and you are the most important person in this child's life. That does not change when you send them to school, but now they will have someone else teaching them, loving them and guiding them. It can be a scary thought. But remember, if you prepare your child for the future, you are doing your job as a parent. Part of preparing them for the future, involves preparing them emotionally.
Children at this delicate age struggle with independence. They want to exert their independence, but at the same time they are torn with feelings of fear of that independence. They are afraid to be independent. They often act out in ways that seem strange. Some children will suddenly seem to lose the ability to do things that they could once do with ease. Have they forgotten how to tie their shoes? No, of course not. They are just dealing with an internal struggle. They want to be independent, but they also don't want to lose the attention they have had from being dependent on you. Regressing is one way children deal with that struggle.
Children crave attention and acceptance. They have dealt with being rewarded and celebrated for their growing accomplishments. In a few short years, they have learned a lot. They have learned to talk, to walk, to dress themselves, to use the potty, and many other great things. School presents challenges and new things to learn, but it also is a place of unfamiliar faces, unknown elements, and it can be scary. Work on reassuring them that school is a safe, and wonderful place. Take them to visit an older sibling's classroom the year before they are set to start school. Visit with the teacher, or find children in the neighborhood who will be attending the same school.
Children need reassurance at this time. They need to be told what school will be like, how fun it can be, how nice their teacher is, and that they will be loved and their accomplishments will still be celebrated and rewarded. Sometimes the reward is simple acknowledgement or a big hug. I'm not talking about handing out money or candy every time a child learns something new. I am just saying that children need to know that what they do still matters to you.
The First Day of School
The first day of school will arrive before you know it. Make sure you have spent some time talking with your child about what to expect, and what is expected of them. Hopefully, your child's school offers an orientation day where you can go to the school with your child, meet his or her teacher together, and get a tour of the classroom and the school as a whole. Having you there for that first day can ease a lot of tension and a lot of fears.
Some children will still have a hard time letting go. Maybe a pre-school program is the way to go. It offers a way to ease a child into the school environment. It can often make the transition a lot easier, and provide the child with a jump start on his or her education. There are a lot of great pre-schools and even pre-K programs through many school districts.
The first day of school does not have to be a scary prospect. It can be a fun and exciting day that your child will look forward to. And remember, you are your child's first and best teacher. Take the time to prepare your child for his or her first day, and stay involved in your child's education. Visit the classroom, help out when you can, and talk to your child about what they are learning. You are a valuable tool in your child's education even after they head off to school.
I Use This With My Daughter to Prepare Her for Kindergarten and I Highly Recommend It!
© 2008 Anna Marie Bowman