As a teacher, I see it every year: a sea of little faces—some excited, some worried, others scared, a few clinging desperately to their mums—all coming to start Kindergarten. For a 5 or 6-year old child, starting school is one of the biggest milestones in their young life. However, that giant, unfamiliar building and ocean of strange, new faces may be intimidating for your child. Take heart, Kinder Parents—there are things you can do to ease this transition, no matter where your child falls in the spectrum of excited-to-scared.
Talk with your child about starting school
Preparing for the start of school starts long before the orientations or meet-the-teacher days. Spend time talking about school with your child. Remember to always be happy and cheerful during these discussions—this reassures them that school is a good place. Your local library will have many excellent children’s books on the topic, if you’re not sure how to introduce the topic.
Attend the school orientation session(s)
Be sure to attend the orientation(s) at your child’s school. We hold these sessions to help you and your child transition by sharing important school information and procedures. These sessions also give you and your child a chance to get to know the school staff; and they provide the school staff a chance to become acquainted with you and your child. Plus, you and your child will meet other families who will be starting school, too.
Take your child to meet their teacher
Meeting the teacher is another type of orientation that allows you and your child to see their new classroom and, well, meet their teacher. This is so reassuring for kids going to school for the first time; doing this creates a familiarity with their new setting from day one. Is your child nervous about meeting their teacher? If so, you can confidently share with them that their teacher has some butterflies in their tummy, too.
Arrange play dates with future classmates
When attending the various school orientations, you’ll surely meet other families with children starting school at the same time. Arrange play dates with these classmates before school starts. Nothing will make your child smile more than arriving at school that first day and immediately seeing a friend!
Make other visits to the school
Kids transition to school much more easily when they feel comfortable and knowledgeable about the new surroundings. Is your child’s new school hosting a sporting event or a play? Going to these events is another chance to see the school and familiarise your child and yourself with the school grounds. While there, walk by your child’s classroom, and look other places on campus like the playground, library, school office, and toilets.
These seemingly simple things can make a big difference for your child. With a little time, discussion, and effort, you have the power to smooth the path for your child as they start their school career!