Starting school is an exciting event for children. They’ve heard about it from siblings, parents and friends — and now they are eager to begin. Entering kindergarten will probably mean big changes in their lives. Children will have new feelings, explore new experiences, make new friends and will take those first steps to becoming more independent. This is why it is so important for all parents to do what they can to get their children off to a good start.
Finally, the big day is here, the first day of school! There are many things you, as a parent, can do to make this day a wonderful day for your child and for you. Stay positive. Talk about what an exciting day it will be. Don’t expose your child to negative comments about the school experience. Make sure you arrive on time. Try not to be too early or too late. Waiting or rushing can create anxiety. Don’t linger in your child’s school. Leave cheerfully so your child can begin the process of transitioning into his or her school day. Remember, teachers are trained and prepared to help your child make a positive transition to kindergarten. You can trust them to do what is best for your child. Letting go can be difficult, but letting your child know you are nervous or having feelings of sadness can dampen your child’s enthusiasm. It is natural for your child to have fears about school. Take the time to sit down with your child and discuss any fears, answer any questions and always show your support.
Because of ever-changing demands in education, an important question parents have today is “What does my child need to know?” Children are now expected to come to kindergarten with basic skills. Children should know personal information about themselves. They should have some experience with writing, such as writing their names. Children should also know about how a book works. They should be able to turn to the front of a book and follow a story. Children should know the parts of a book. This knowledge comes from reading to them often and allowing them to experience the book as you read. Reading to children and discussing stories helps build their oral language. Through this activity they will learn to both ask and answer questions. These are vital skills in the learning process. Students should also be able to recognize many upper and lower case letters. The more letter recognition a child has, the better. Children should be able to both count by saying numbers in order and by counting objects to show how many. They should know how to identify color, shape and size of an object. Also, through active play, children will develop gross motor skills such as hopping, skipping and jumping. These activities will help them improve coordination.
In addition to skills, parents should give their children experiences. All children need to have opportunities to learn how to get along and cooperate with other children. This can take place by letting them participate in playgroups, church groups, preschool classes, and day care. These experiences help children learn how to play, share, take turns, follow directions, and make friends. Parents should introduce their children to the world of language. The average child comes into kindergarten with a vocabulary of about 2,000 words. Children who are exposed to literature and have parents who communicate and have discussions with them on a daily basis are more likely to come into kindergarten ready. This also gives children the ability to master the kindergarten requirements. Read, read, read — the more you read to your children, the more likely their vocabulary will increase.
Parents should find opportunities to build their children’s self-esteem and independence. Let them know you expect them to succeed. Look for activities and challenges they can master, such as riding a bike or tying their shoes. Children need to have opportunities to make safe choices. Picking out clothes, deciding which toy to play with, or deciding which activity to participate in first are all ways a child can learn to become independent. Activities such as these help to build the confidence needed to be successful in kindergarten.
Another way to make sure the first day is a happy day for your children is to practice getting up early the week before and walking them to the bus stop or to school. If possible, visit the school before the first day. Call the principal and ask if a visit can be arranged. Most schools will gladly accommodate their future students. Most important of all, tell children how much you love them. This makes them feel secure. Knowing they have someone who loves them can be the most significant factor in their lives. This knowledge alone can go a long way in leading them to future success. With proper preparation, each and every child will be ready to conquer and set for success. Now, let’s GO to kindergarten!