Liz Hunter

By Liz Hunter

How to Help Create a Smooth Transition to Kindergarten

Article written by Christina Kumar

In just a few short weeks, hundreds of New Westminster children will be taking a big step in  life. They will be starting Kindergarten! Kindergarten is a time of great excitement. It is an opportunity to meet new friends, gain confidence, and clevelop skills. As an elementary school teacher, I often hear from families asking how they can best prepare their child for school. Does their child need to know how to write his name? What do they need to buy? Here are a few tips to help create a smooth transition for yourself and your child.

Practise Life Skills- Children are often nervous to ask for help at the start of the school year . Have your child practise zipping his coat, buttoning his pants, and putting on his shoes before he goes to school. If an article of clothing is too tricky for a child to do independently most of the time, it might be a better home outfit for now. The same advice goes for lunch containers. Encourage your child to practise opening and closing his containers so that he is confident accessing his food. Of course, the teacher will gladly help your child, but do remember that the student to teacher ratio is much higher in Kindergarten than it is in preschool or daycare. This means children could have to be more patient when seeking assistance.

Check with the School Before Purchasing Supplies- Students will need specific supplies for Kindergarten. Before getting too excited about the Back to School Sale signs popping up in stores, check with your school about what your child requires. Some schools will provide a list for you to use. If that is the case, read the list carefully and try to purchase the items selected by the school. The teachers have chosen the items for a reason and having items other than what is on the list could prove problematic. Imagine trying to use liquid glue when a glue stick would be the easier option! Other schools prefer to collect money from families and provide all of the necessary supplies. This method helps ensure that every student has the correct supplies. If either method will be a financial burden on your family, please contact your school to help come up with a solution.

Don’t Stress the Academics- Your child does NOT need to be able to read arid write before entering Kindergarten. They will develop these skills throughout the year and the years to follow. As a parent, the best way to support your child’s academic progress is to provide positive academic experiences. Visit the library together and .have your child select books according to his interests. Encourage your child to develop fine motor skills by playing with lego, drawing, or building puzzles. Remember that Kindergarten is play-based. Their school experience will likely look different than yours did when you were a child, but that does not mean they are not learning.

Talk to Your Child About the Format of the Day- Children thrive off routines and schedules. Starting Kindergarten will likely mean a change in the structure of your child’s day. Talk to your child about what his day will look like. What will he eat for breakfast? Who will take him to school? What will he eat for snack and lunch? Who will be pick him up? When children feel confident with what is going to happen, they experience less anxiety and are better able to interact and learn. If you anticipate your child might feel anxious about being away from home, a family picture in his backpack can often be a soothing comfort.

Be Open with Your Child’s Teacher- The Kindergarten year typically begins with parent­ teacher meetings. You are the expert about your child, and these meetings are an important time for you to share what you know with your child’s teacher. Try to be as open and honest as possible. The teacher is not there to judge your child or family. By relaying important information to the teacher, she will better be able to help your child. For example, if your child still has some bathroom accidents, it is best to Jet the teacher know so that she can remember to check in with your child and encourage him to use the school washroom throughout the day.

Starting Kindergarten can seem a little scary for children and their families. There will be new people, new places, and new experiences. There will often be a period of adjustment at the start of the year, but before you know it your child will gain confidence and you will be the proud family of a school-aged child.