Going to kindergarten may be the most significant milestone your child has faced yet in their short life. It’s a rite of passage for them, and they may be understandably nervous or excited about it. You may feel apprehensive about it too, unsure if they’re ready emotionally or mentally for such a big step.
Instead of worrying about it, you can do something more useful – help them prepare, so they’ll be ready to tackle this new challenge successfully. Here is how you can help get your child ready for their first day of kindergarten.
Make Sure Their Sleep Schedule Is Up to Snuff
To make sure your child can put up with the physical demands of their new schedule, they need to get enough sleep at night and should no longer need an afternoon nap to power through their day.
Put your child to bed early enough at night to ensure they are getting an adequate amount of sleep. Children at five years old still need anywhere from 10 to 13 hours of sleep per night.
If your child seems hard to wake up in the morning or crabby, they may need more sleep. Try bumping up their bedtime a half an hour earlier and see how they respond to that.
If they are waking up too early in the morning, push their bedtime back by 15 minutes and see how that works. It can take some adjustments on your part until you find the perfect bedtime for them. Keep tinkering with it until they seem well-rested in the morning and aren’t waking up too early.
If your child is feeling anxious because of the change in routine and they aren’t sure what to expect, you can act out what a typical day might be like for them. Pretend you’re the teacher, as you walk them through things they will do every day, like lining up and responding while the teacher takes roll.
You can ask your imaginary class a question and remind your child they’ll have to raise their hand if they know the answer and wait for you to call on them before they can blurt it out.
By understanding some of the processes they’ll go through daily, you can take some of the mystery and fear out of attending kindergarten. That can ease a lot of their anxiety.
Read Them Books
If your child likes books, you can use that to your advantage. Your local library might have some great children’s books about attending kindergarten. If not, you’ll be able to find some online or in bookstores to purchase.
Some books your student should love include:
- The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
- The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing
- Off to Kindergarten by Tony Johnston
- Kindergarten, Here I Come! By D.J. Steinberg
- Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate
Visit the School
You can mentally prepare your child all you want, but some children feel better after seeing things with their own eyes – they can’t get a clear picture of what it will be like just from your description. Nothing can soothe a worried 5-year-old quite like a visit to their school and classroom.
They’ll see their little chairs, the brightly decorated classroom, and they’ll get an opportunity to say hi to their teacher, so they’ll have a familiar face on the first day. That can be a confidence booster for them.
Have Them Talk to an Older Student
Do they have a cousin who is a year or two ahead of them in school? Or perhaps you have a mom friend who has a child who has been through kindergarten recently. If you do, tap that resource and ask that slightly older child to put in a good word for how much fun school can be.
Sometimes kids like to hear these things from other children. And it can work out even better if that child still attends the same school as your child. They can promise to wave at your child when they see them in the hallways.
You’ll want to screen the candidates that might be your child’s school mentor ahead of time though. You don’t want to accidentally pick a child who isn’t fond of school and makes it sound like the worst place on earth when talking to your child.
Make It a Momentous Occasion
The first day of kindergarten deserves extra attention because it’s a huge deal. Let your child see your excitement by making a big production out of it the night before and that morning. Spend some time with your child the night before their first day laying out the clothes they’ll wear and filling their backpack with school supplies.
If your child plans to bring a cold lunch to school, write a little note or draw a heart on a piece of paper and put it in the lunch.
You can take the day off of work to take them to school, or at least set your alarm early enough so you don’t have to rush around in the morning. That will allow you the extra time you need to walk in with them if they prefer for you to do so.
You should also, if your schedule allows, be there right after school to personally pick them up and listen to their excited chatter about all the things that happened on their first day there.
Believe in Your Child and Yourself
It’s difficult to watch your child head into school for the first time. You’ll wonder if they’re mature enough to handle it emotionally and if they’ll succeed academically. Trust your child and your parenting skills.
You’ve worked hard for the past five years to teach your child and to help them grow. Now, it’s time to loosen the reins a little and let them show you what they can do.