By Janet Correia
School has started and your little one is off to kindergarten. You’ve bought a new backpack, lunch box and wardrobe, but is your little one really ready for the first day of school? A simple checklist in several areas will help you determine if he is ready.
Can your child…
- Go to the bathroom on his own and do the proper hygiene after toileting?
- Blow his nose on his own and cover his mouth when he sneezes?
- Snap, button or zip jackets, sweaters and/or pants?
- Put his shoes on and off?
- Recognize what jacket or sweater is his or what lunch box belongs to him?
- Eat unassisted?
- Put toys away when asked?
Can your child…
- Follow simple instructions from an adult?
- Play with other children without hitting or biting?
- Follow rules?
- Sit quietly and listen to a story?
- Listen to directions and participate in the activity?
Does your child…
- Have interest in books and reading?
- Hold books in the correct position to read and turn pages one at a time?
- Know a few songs or rhymes and participate in following along with songs?
- Recognize the letters in his first name so he can find his cubby, lunch box, etc.?
- Know his first and last name when asked?
- Know how to retell a simple story?
- Communicate personal needs? (I need to go to the bathroom, I’m thirsty, I need a tissue?)
Can your child…
- Run, jump, climb, swing and throw a ball?
- Hold a crayon or pencil in his hand and demonstrate an interest in coloring, drawing and writing?
- Position scissors in his hand and use them in an open and shut pattern?
- Unwrap food in a wrapper and unsnap containers?
- Are his immunizations up to date?
- Does your child eat on a regular schedule?
- Does your child get at least 8 hours of sleep a night? (Recommended sleep time for children at this age is 10 to 12 hours a night)
Of course you don’t have to answer yes to all the above questions, but the more yeses you have the easier your child should adjust to kindergarten.
Preparing for the Transition
Before the big day comes, talk about it. Share your experience with your child. Express how you felt on the BIG day. (I was so excited or I was nervous on my first day of school). Let your child take the lead in expressing how he feels. Go to the library together, pick up a book about the first day of school and read it together. This will encourage conversation about the upcoming event.
Your child’s teacher may send home a list of things your child may need. It is fun to make a big deal shopping for the supplies! The night before pack his new “big kid” backpack together. You can add a little note in his lunch or snack bag that he will see and know you are thinking of him.
Making a chart that outlines your day’s routine will help your child get into this new schedule. This will help the whole family get through the excitement or anxiety of “going to kindergarten.” It may be helpful to put your routine in place the week before school starts. Include who will take him to school, who will pick him up, on which days he will take the bus or walk, etc. You can use pictures to make it easier to understand the schedule.
If your school offers a “meet and greet” prior to school starting, take advantage and go. Have him check out his classroom, sit in the chairs, look at the bathroom, and check out the cubbies. Spending time in the building without all of the students present can help decrease the overwhelming feelings your child may be experiencing. Children feel more comfortable when they know what to expect.
The First Day of School
This can be a difficult time for both parents and children. Make the drop off simple and quick — and keep smiling. Try not to let him see you upset. Let him know that you will see him at the end of the day and that you can’t wait to hear all about his exciting day. It is best not to linger, and teachers suggest that you avoid coming back into the classroom to check on him.
Kindergarten is an amazing time of growth and learning for both parents and children. Independence is fostered. Exploration is encouraged. Discoveries are endless. Embrace this time…it goes by fast!