We often tend to think that our child needs to know everything before entering kindergarten, we want to turn him into a university graduate even before his first year starts. We should never forget that school is there to teach our children new notions, not to demonstrate things that he already knows. Like a circus school is there to teach new acrobatics and the circus is the place to demonstrate those acrobatics. So, it is not necessary to know how to read, to count to 100, to be able to multiply or to knit a sweater. He must only be ready to learn. He will have plenty of time to demonstrate his talents and knowledge later on.
Here are some tips and advices to prepare your child for kindergarten without and worries and without tears (especially from mom and dad).
- Help your child to calm down if he is very active.
- Help him pay attention to others.
- Teach him self-motivation and self-esteem; it only needs a few words of encouragement. Most importantly, do not put too much pressure on him.
- Whether your child is enthusiastic or anxious at the thought of beginning school, make him feel safer by explaining what kindergarten is with simple words.
- Tell him that he will make new friends and play with them.
- Tell him that there will always be an adult he can trust.
- Talk positively about school. Avoid remarks like “It was hard for the first few days but after a while I liked it”, he doesn’t need to hear that.
- Reassure your child on specific matters like the schedule, and his daily routine.
- Teach your child to become a “big kid”: getting dressed by himself, paying attention to his environment, finding his things, putting his toys away, being clean.
It is important to establish good eating habits, to eat at fixed times and understand that he cannot nibble all day.
Also establish a resting schedule and adopt a regular sleep pattern. It means going to bed early and getting up early. You can also check with his future school if there is a fixed time for naps and begin to make his sleep at the same time.
Work his gross motor skills with him through play. Why don’t you play ball with the family or go to the park to access the play structures. Even if it sounds trite, teaching him to color within the lines and to fold napkins also helps his motor skills.
Preparing the material
Make sure that he feels good with his school material. If you cannot buy the huge Buzz Lightyear sketchbook, buy a regular notebook and stick a Buzz sticker on it. For your child, Buzz is Buzz and that’s it. You can even make him participate to the purchases by saying that you are both going to Big Kids Land. Don’t forget to write your child’s name on all his things, no, really, on everything!
Most of all, don’t share your own stress. Be calm and he will be calm so it will calm you even more. It is a wheel that goes on.
Beginning school will be a separation for a child, but also for his parents. Start talking about it in advance. Explain that it is like mom going to work. She leaves for a little while and then she comes back. Reassuring him will reassure you too.
Don’t hesitate to inquire to your school or your teacher if you have questions. Avoid reflections such as “I know how it works, I’ve been there!” Maybe you did, but it was a long time ago.
Keep in mind that there will be an important adaptation period, for you as well as for your child.
Preparing the teacher
Of course if your child suffers from an allergy or another disease, it is important to tell the teacher. You can tell your teacher about your doubts concerning your child’s learning capacities but do not try to do his job. Also, wait for a few weeks before inquiring about your child’s learning abilities. Your child must have some time to learn before you know if he does it well. And if there is anything wrong, your teacher will tell you about it.
Preparing the place
To prepare your child to his new school and to avoid a difficult first day, why don’t you visit the school with him on an open day. That way, you can explore this mysterious place with him and show him that he has nothing to be afraid of. Be funny and smile as you visit his future school, he will remember that image when he will be there without you.
Preparing the environment
If your child did not go to a daycare, it is not the end of the world. Just explain that it is a playful environment where other children can play with him. Give examples like family reunions, neighbors, playing with friends at the ark, etc.
If your child seems nervous, play kindergarten with him on the days before his entry. The game will continue in a new spot, that’s all.
Remember that no matter how prepared he is, it is impossible to tell how your child will react on his first day. The only thing you can do for him is to relax. He will feel it and will probably be relaxed too on his first day. Have faith in life.
On the way to kindergarten
On the night before the big day, put him to bed early and go to bed early too. In the morning, wake him up early to avoid rushing him and he will notice that you are calm while taking a good breakfast with you. Show him that it is a big day for the whole family. Do not forbid him to take his favorite soft toy or blanket. Just tell him that it will be in the bag, right next to him. Once at school, avoid talking about the time when you will be away (“Mommy will come back soon!”) just tell him “Have fun with your friends, I’ll see you later!”
What will he learn?
From the main program that uses gameplay as a learning tool, your child will develop aptitudes that will help him express himself, work in a group, gain autonomy, take responsibilities, understand the world that surrounds him and increase his imagination and creativity.
If you have questions concerning the preschool program or if you need help to prepare for school, you can contact your school, your school board or your provincial Ministry of Education.