The step from preschool to kindergarten is a big one for you and your child. And it truly does help if you are wearing the right shoes! You know how you feel when you put on a new pair of shoes and you look hip and cool for that special event? The right pair will put a bounce in your step and a confident smile on your face. Think of getting your child ready for kindergarten in the same way. Are you both putting your best foot forward?
Here are few simple questions to ponder as you look forward to this big step into the big school.
Stamina: Keeping in mind that many public school kindergarten programs are 6 to 7 hours long, can your child sustain their attention and focus without melting down because they are tired and hungry? Long stretches of screen time and bouncing off the walls for hours does not count.
Language Awareness: While your child doesn’t need to be reading, they will be a step ahead if they know their letters and numbers. And it is super helpful if they can recognize and write their name. They should also be able to listen to a story and answer some questions.
Transitions and Separation: I know you feel loved when your child clings to your leg, but they do need to be able to let you go. And can you get them there on time and with a confident smile while pushing them out the door? Will they put the Legos down and move on to another activity without bribery?
Those 3 areas represent the basic approach to being ready for Kindergarten - Your shoes go with your outfit, but they don’t make a statement.
A child who meets the next 3 style points can usually walk in and confidently take on this big new world of new friends, new teachers, new building and new expectations.
Attention Span and Curiosity: Is your child interested in learning? Do they want to read about dolphins and the planets? Do they remember what they learned last week and apply it to new concepts this week? This child will enjoy school and be hungry to learn.
Being Language Savvy: Does your child ask you how to spell words? Do they pretend to read their books to their stuffed animals? Do they try to read signs and labels out in the world and in their house? This child understands that letters make words and words give you information and stories.
School Is a Journey, Not a Level in a Video Game: This is really more about you the parent, not your child. Are you ready to be the personal trainer to your child and let the teacher be the coach? As the trainer, will you fuel your child with good food, get them to bed on time, help them practice at home, listen to the coach, and enjoy the learning, not bemoan the work? Your calm, optimistic outlook can set a positive, “I’m here for you” tone that will do wonders for your child’s attitude and self-confidence.
As with anything you try on, one size does not fit all. But we have found that these 6 accessories can make for a smooth transition into elementary school.
Leslie Janss has been teaching Pre-K at Claire’s Day School for more years than she cares to mention and is the proud mother of 4 grown children.