Hence, preparing your preschooler for the smoothest transition possible is essential, and that preparation should happen as early as possible. If your child is in Pre-K this year, take that transitional year to prepare them. Here are some tips to help you out.
Establish Strong Routines
Establishing strong routines and frameworks at home helps children feel safe and in control of their environment. Therefore, creating family rituals and keeping kids on your planned schedule is essential. It does not always need to be perfect because we all know that life happens to anyone, and sometimes things derail a bit. That said, strive to stick to your schedule, routines, and rituals as much as possible.
Pre-k is the perfect time to prepare your child to talk about what happened at school. It will help you learn about what happened during the day and emphasize that you are interested in what they did inside and outside the classroom. Most importantly, you show that talking together and sharing is important and that school is a part of that too. You will notice that your child will be more inclined to open up and share their feelings.
Do not expect your preschooler to respond in great detail to a generic “how was your day?” Try to engage in a series of questions about what they did, what was their favorite activity, ask what they played with, or if they have made new friends. Multiply the questions but do not become an examinator. Also, share what you did to show that a conversation is not a one-way activity but an opportunity to inform and share.
A day is filled with opportunities to learn, become independent, and help the family. You can build routines around taking shoes off and washing hands when your child returns home.
Washing hands becomes particularly important during the colder seasons when flu, stomach bugs, and other viruses are circulating. Re-emphasizing good hygiene rules can help protect your family.
Reading and Math Routines
Pre-k is an excellent time to establish some routines around reading and math:
These activities are typically what your child will do during kindergarten. Therefore, take some time every day to work together and establish a ritual.
Take the time to prepare a meal together and involve your child in the process. Have them churn or sprinkle something, smell and taste what you prepare, or ask them to set the table. In other words, transform a chore into a moment of sharing and fun.
Preparing and sharing a healthy meal is an opportunity to spend time together and strengthen relationships. Remember that enjoying a moment around the table without phones, TV, or tablets is as crucial as developing healthy eating habits. If your child sees that they have your full attention, they will feel valued.
Keep consistent bedtime routines and rituals. Planning is necessary to maintain that schedule if your child goes to bed around 8:00 PM. Make sure to account for the time to bathe, brush their teeth, go to the bathroom, and read a story or two before switching off the lights.
Take the opportunity to dim the lights and calm down. Avoid using electronics, roughhousing, or playing games that will keep them excited.
Visit The Future School
Transitioning from one school to another is never easy and is often a source of anxiety and stress. Therefore, to alleviate that stress, you may want to drive past the future school and show their future school. It can help them get more comfortable with the idea of going to kindergarten. Usually, the great thing about drive-bys is that they trigger a lot of questions in the car. So, it is an opportunity to answer all questions about their future new environment.
Another great way to prepare your child is to contact the elementary school director and ask to meet or visit the new school. Although school cultures, rules, and policies are sometimes different, and directors may not be open to welcoming future students outside the traditional open door or back-to-school days, some are and will accept to meet your family and show you around. Take the opportunity to learn more about the curriculum to help you prepare for what’s coming next.
Do Not Brush off Their Feelings
Acknowledging your child’s feelings can go a long way to alleviate fears and stress and stop tears. Sharing and talking together can help your child express their feelings and release the pressure from the perspective of starting kindergarten. Words can help them move on. Therefore, listen and use words cautiously.
You may be inclined to brush off their feelings to help them with a generic “don’t worry; it’s going to be ok,” trying to calm them down or help them cope with stress.
Unfortunately, most of the time, it will stop any communication.
Instead, acknowledge their fear or anxiety: “You will go to kindergarten, and you are scared,” and follow with questions to understand why.
That type of acknowledgment helps the conversation to unfold. Practicing this form of communication as part of your family’s culture will help your child develop socio-emotional skills.
Sure, we are all tempted to encourage with overly positive praise when sometimes all your child needs is being heard, understood, and supported.
Preparing for kindergarten takes months of preparation on the academic and wellness side. Therefore, if your child goes to preschool this year, take that time to prepare and introduce changes progressively, keeping in mind the upcoming transition.
If you need support, engage with your current preschool teacher or director, or if you need to find a preschool to get your child on a good path, contact our team at Willowdale Children’s Academy.
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Willowdale Children's Academy is a child care agency located in Chester County, PA, specialized in early learning with schools in Chadds Ford, Kennett Square, Avondale, and West Chester, PA. We offer programs for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, after school care, and summer camps.