Getting Ready for Kindergarten


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It’s here! That loaded time of the year is upon us once again. Whether you have a rising kindergartner or a returning veteran student, back-to-school is rich with change and emotions.

While parents of returning students may be eager for that sweet day when the school doors fling open after a summer of silently sitting, those who are sending their little ones into the world of pencils and books for the first time often find themselves torn between excitement and anxiety. For the parent of a 2017 kindergartener,



For the parent of a 2017 kindergartener, here are a few tips from a teacher and a parent who has recently been there to help you navigate this big step with ease.

Preparation

While you’ve probably already covered the back-to-school wardrobe, there are other items you can shop for to help ease into kindergarten. Whether you borrow it from the local library or order it from Amazon, a getting ready to go to school book can be a huge asset in preparing your youngster (and yourself) for what lies ahead. Understandably, newbie students are often living in the shadow of a certain amount of anxiety over what this new adventure will hold. Being separated from their caretakers is often top of their “worry” list, but it may also include things such as using the

Understandably, newbie students are often living in the shadow of a certain amount of anxiety over what this new adventure will hold. Being separated from their caretakers is often top of their “worry” list, but it may also include things such as using the bathroom or opening the items in their lunch box. Many authors have helped to curb these first-day jitters with creative books – some teacher favorites include: “The Night Before Kindergarten” by Natasha Wing, “Tomorrow is the First Day of School”, by Maureen MacDowell, or “The Kissing Hand”, by Audry Penn.

Talk, Talk, Talk

Although your little one may not be able to find the words to express what he or she is feeling as the big day approaches, opening up a conversation with them is a great way to allow them space to discuss what thoughts might be roaming around in their heads.

One great way to start a discussion like this with a five-year-old is to model the conversation first. For example, you might say, ‘You know, I have a big day coming up soon at work, and when I think about it, I feel a silly feeling in my tummy. It makes me feel excited because I am going to do something brand new, but it also makes me feel a little scared because I don’t know what it will be like. How do you feel about your big day coming up and starting kindergarten’?.

You could also make a list of things that make them feel excited about school, and things that make them feel anxious. This is an effective way to get them to include things you may not have thought of as an adult – such as worries about the teacher being mean, or about a monster living in the library.

Practice

Practice makes perfect, right?! Well, maybe not perfect, but doing a few dry runs of what the new morning routine will look like once school actually starts will help everyone become accustomed to the new flow of getting out of the house, and identify any kinks in the line where new students may need a little extra time or help with certain tasks. Make sure to take a moment to discuss directly with your child what your expectations are going to be of them in the morning, such as putting on their own clothing, or brushing their own hair, as well as reassure them with what you will help them with. This may include laying out their outfit and helping to brush their teeth or make their bed with the child’s help.

Organization

A tremendously helpful area that parents of rising kindergartners often overlook is creating organizational tools to streamline tasks that will become part of everyday life for the next 10 months. For example, spending an hour making a “lunch choice chart” with your child over the summer can save hours of time in shopping and packing lunches during the year. The chart may be a compilation of choices for packed lunches that both the caretaker and child agree on. Over the weekend once school begins, the pair can sit down together and plan lunch choices from the chart for the week. In this way, the child has some autonomy and choice in what he or she eats for lunch, and the caretaker can easily shop for the supplies and pack lunches without stressing over ideas.

For example, spending an hour making a “lunch choice chart” with your child over the summer can save hours of time in shopping and packing lunches during the year. The chart may be a group of choices for packed lunches that both the caretaker and child agree on. Over the weekend once school begins, the pair can sit down together and plan lunch choices from the chart for the week. In this way, the child has some autonomy and choice in what he or she eats for lunch, and the caretaker can easily shop for the supplies and pack lunches without stressing over ideas.

Another great organizational need is a system for coming home from school. The child should have a designated place for his or her backpack, lunch box and school shoes to avoid searching for lost items in the morning. Parents may also want to have their child decorate a bin in which to put work that is brought home from school so a child can independently empty their backpack while keeping important papers from getting misplaced.

With some forethought and pre-planning, jumping into kindergarten can be significantly easier on both parents and kids. While nervousness and butterflies are almost always part of the experience for both students and their caregivers, ultimately, excitement and success can be the most remembered part of this milestone first day!

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Emily Macchiavello
Emily has always had a passion for words. Although her career is in teaching, writing has never been far from her heart.
Emily is a mother of three who loves travel, fashion, yoga and generally making the most of what life has to offer. She finds happiness in raising her family in Charlotte, and takes pride in being a part of this friendly community.
Emily teaches English and Spanish at a K-8 Charter school in Charlotte, and holds a B.S in English Education and a M.A in Literature.