Starting kindergarten here in DC is a major milestone, and it’s a step that causes anxiety not just in students, but in parents too. Although the first day of kindergarten is still a long ways off, parents can take some steps over the next several months so when the big day arrives, everybody is excited and ready.
1. Be positive. Even if you’re worried or anxious, try not to convey that to your child. Put on a happy face, and talk about how wonderful school is as often as you can.
2. Make some social connections. Try to find some other children who will attend the same school. (The community playground is a great place to meet other families). Set up a few play dates so your child knows at least one other friend before the year starts.
3. Encourage independence. Encouraging your child to accomplish tasks such as tying shoes, zipping coats, using the bathroom without help, and putting a straw in a juice box will build the child’s self-esteem and make the transition easier in the fall.
4. Practice following directions. Children will enjoy school more if they can complete tasks without a teacher always having to give reminders. Give 2-step directions such as “Hang up your coat and sit down at the table.” Then try to move it up to 3 steps.
5. Continue to work on basic skills such as letters, numbers, shapes, and colors.
6. Practice motor skills. Writing his name and cutting with scissors are good practice, as well as throwing a ball, skipping, and hopping.
7. Encourage verbal expression. It’s important for children to express how they’re feeling. Let them feel safe about feeling worried or scared about starting kindergarten.
8. Take advantage of open house or orientation days. If your child is more familiar with the school, the first few days won’t be quite so overwhelming.
9. If possible, volunteer at the school. Children whose parents are more involved in their education are more successful academically, and students will also feel more at home if they know they might see a parent at some point during the day.
10. Read, read, and read some more. If you do nothing else, giving your child’s reading skills a head start will set him up for success. Plus, you can choose books such as Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten, by Joseph Slate, Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come! by Nancy Carlson, and Kindergarten Rocks! by Katie Davis to get your child excited about this next step.
Kindergarten is a major milestone, and it’s not too soon to get your child ready for this transition. Use these tips to help your child ease into the next school year, and contact us if you have any questions about a Montessori education in D.C.
- R. Rodriguez