Learning to walk and how to dress one’s self are big steps for a youngster, but entering kindergarten is one of the most pivotal times in a young child’s life. Kansas State University assistant professor of elementary education Lori Norton-Meier gives tips on how children, and their parents, can make the move to kindergarten a breeze.
Going to kindergarten is a big transition for kids because it is the start of a new experience in a new environment, she explains. “There is usually more focus on academics and more expectations upon entering kindergarten. Whether children were cared for at home or at day care, they have to adjust to a new way of doing things and different classroom structures, such as larger classes.”
Youngsters may be anxious about entering kindergarten because they do not know what to expect. “They have been told about kindergarten and may feel some of their parents’ tension and may be fearful of the unknown,” Norton-Meier indicates. Other concerns for students may be finding the bathrooms and where they will eat lunch, and wondering when they are going to learn how to read.
Norton-Meier also points out that kindergarten is a big transition for parents. It’s a time when parents realize how quickly their child is growing up and gaining more and more independence–and may bring up memories, both positive and negative, of when they were in school. “Parents know that kindergarten is the start of a journey for both their children and themselves and they just hope their child will adjust well and have a good experience in school.”
She suggests the following to ease the transition:
* Be aware–read newsletters and communicate with teachers to know what your child is learning about.
* Be interested–ask specific questions, such as, “Can you tell me three things you did in school today?”
* Communication is key–talk with teachers at any time; you don’t have to wait until parent-teacher conferences to address concerns.
* Read books–there are various publications about kindergarten that can be shared with your child to ease fears and initiate conversation with them about their experiences.
“Kindergarten is set up to be this huge thing that often brings many expectations for children, making it so important for parents to take proactive steps in helping their children adjust to kindergarten and enjoy their new journey,” Norton-Meier concludes.