Where did the time go? Your precious little baby is now starting kindergarten! As exciting a milestone as this is, it can also be a very challenging time for all involved. This may be the first time your child will be away from you for a long period of time. On top of that, you may be concerned about how he/she will fare in school, both emotionally and academically.
Starting kindergarten is a big change for little ones
According to Dr. Adler: “The whole idea of kindergarten might terrify your child — making new friends, meeting new teachers, managing school supplies, learning new concepts, finding the bathrooms — or maybe he/she will sprint to the bus the first day with a confident smile and barely a wave good-bye! However your child approaches the big new world of kindergarten, the pediatricians of Westchester Health Pediatrics are here to help.”
8 tried and true, parent-approved tips to help make the transition to kindergarten easier
To help your youngster successfully get the hang of kindergarten, here’s a shortened form of Dr. Adler’s 8 helpful suggestions:
During the summer, familiarize your child with what to expect at school.
Reading stories together about the first day of school is a great idea. I recommend: The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing and Julie Durrell, Kindergarten Rocks by Katie Davis, Ready for Kindergarten, Stinky Face? By Lisa McCourt, and The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn.
Help your child master some basic self-care skills.
Kindergarteners-to-be should be able to dress themselves and use the toilet by themselves. For both sexes, pants with elastic waist bands are the best bet.
Over the summer, assign some basic chores around the house.
These can include putting away their toys and clearing their plate after dinner. At school, kids will be responsible for their materials, so get them used to this ahead of time.
Sleep and diet are essential for making it through a long day of learning.
Make sure your kindergarten-age child gets at least 10-12 hours of sleep at night. Plus, a hearty, healthy breakfast starts the morning off right. Some ideas for quick and healthy breakfast are: scrambled eggs and fresh fruit, or whole grain cereal with skin milk and berries.
Don’t communicate to your child that you are sad that he/she will be gone.
Often, young children do not want to go to school because they are concerned that their mommy or daddy will miss them too much. Instead, focus on how much fun they will have at school and talk about the things you will do together when they get home.
Create first-day-of-school traditions.
Take a photo of your child taken at the same spot every year on both the first and last day of school. Or fix a special breakfast that’s repeated every year. Even little things can help ease the transition into each new level of school.
Advocate for your child.
Make an appointment to meet the teacher, principal or service provider early in the school year so you can discuss any concerns that you have for your child.
Get involved with the PTA.
If you can, make time to volunteer on the PTA or in your child’s classroom. See firsthand what goes on there and get to know your child’s new friends and their parents.
Kindergarten is just one of many life transitions for you and your child.
Preparing your child both emotionally and developmentally is extremely important to make this transition successful. In addition, understanding your own emotions will enable you to better help your child navigate this exciting stage of life.
Relax, your new kindergartener be fine!
You might also find these two pages helpful from our Westchester Health Pediatrics website:
To read Dr. Adler’s blog in its entirety, click here.