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Friday, September 4, 2015

helping your 5 year old with the Big K transition

Preparing for Kindergarten is something that the whole family partakes in... because, after all, it's a transition for the family, not just the Kindergartener. I don't have a whole lot of advice on how to prepare yourself, Momma, it's a big change, so take a deep breath, have patience, and be supportive. The rest will fall into place.

There are lots of little things you can do to prepare your little one though.

First, remember that they are psyched about this change, for the most part! They are Big Kids now! They can't believe it. They know there will be tons of cool things they can do now that they are in School.

So jump on board their happy train. It's fun and games, it really is. That's what Kindergarten is about to these guys. So smile, be excited with them!

There are lots of other academic things you can do to support your child's transition to Kindergarten:

  • scissors - it's good to let them practice cutting, that's a big skill they work with in K
  • workbooks of letters and flashcards of numbers
  • recognizing letters and numbers out in the world on signs, etc.
  • writing name, spelling name
  • sharing
  • wiping and toileting - this is a big thing that they will need lots of practice doing before they enter the school
  • putting on shoes and socks by self
  • practicing jackets and buttons, zippers, etc. 
  • asking for help - teaching to raise his hand, wait turns, be patient
Probably you've been teaching your pre-Kindergartener all of these things without even realizing you were doing it. So don't fret that you haven't done all you need to prepare her for school. She's going to learn these things even more in Kindergarten, it's all good!

Transitions are tough. Some kids don't need you to talk too early about the change. Others can't have you wait too long to talk about the change to Kindergarten. It's based on your child's personality and traits. You know when your child is ready. I do suggest talking about the change at least a few weeks before it's happening though. In the beginning, just share small details, answer questions they ask, don't share too much information or go overboard. It's not tomorrow... and talking too much will make them think it's happening right now, which sometimes causes a little anxiety or worry in kids.

A few fun ways to teach your child about the change to Kindergarten and help with this big transition, so they feel comfortable, secure, easygoing about it:

  • Read books about Kindergarten, going to school, trying something new.
  • Make it fun! Talk about all the positive, happy, awesome new things she'll get to do now that she's in a new place. She's growing up and that's awesome in your book!
  • Visit the school. Take a tour. Meet staff, even office staff are so friendly and make school seem fun. 
  • Visit the playground. Those are always free and open on weekends and later in the day, so check it out. It's a good way to make it exciting and fun to look forward to going to this school, but also it's a good thing to practice using the equipment. 
  • Talk about other transitions and how he did a great job being brave learning those. Like the first day of soccer practice and how he didn't know any friends or the coach, but he learned to get better at kicking and listened to the coach, who was super nice, just like his teacher will be in school. 
  • Share feelings. It's OK to share that you're going to miss being with her every day or dropping him off at preschool. It's OK to share the things you can't wait to see when he goes to school, too. 
We made this calendar to keep track of days leading up to Kindergarten. I could tell my son was anxious, because every day that we were going some place in the car he'd ask if today or tomorrow was the day he went to Kindergarten. This started weeks before he was due to go, and I knew we'd need something concrete to help him realize time and days before he was moving on to a big change. 

I made this calendar very quickly one morning, it's nothing fancy, I did not Pinterest this. I'm sure there are a zillion other cute ideas there. I just wanted something simple for the fridge!

I simply wrote out the days leading up to school, including H for days we were home, P for days he still was attending his preschool daycare, and K for the days at Kindergarten. Each morning he puts a sticker on the day. He gets so excited about it, and I've noticed he's not asking me anymore how many more days until Kindergarten. It's really helped alleviate the worry. It's a good visual reminder for all of us!

I also had an idea of doing a type of Christmas advent type calendar for going to Kindergarten, where the child could open a tiny surprise gift each day leading up to it. I was thinking maybe doing that for 10 days... however, my son gets overexcited easily and it's hard to cool him down... so I thought we'd be way too excited and not sleeping for two weeks before school, which would defeat our purpose of feeling comfortable with this change. I also have a little one who is not going to school and I thought she'd get jealous if brother got prizes daily and she didn't.

So instead, we have a gift for our son for the first day of school. He's asked us a few times if he gets a present on the first day because it's a big day to celebrate. So of course he'll get one!

These are items that are in his 1st Day of School Present:

  • pencils
  • erasers
  • notebook with lined paper
  • folders
  • books
  • glue sticks
  • Goldfish snacks
  • Ninja Turtles lunchbox containers
  • Water bottle
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Socks - simple ones for school, and then some super cool soccer ones with Superman on them 

All things he needs for school anyway, just in a gift bag so he'll think it's awesome!

 Transitions are tough. Remember that your child may have lots of questions, some may seem strange, but to them this is a big change. Imagine how many questions you have about this change, and double that... your child probably will have more. Be calm and patient answering them.

A few things you'll want to make sure you talk about with your child before she goes to school on that first day:

  • The morning routine- what will she need to do differently, the same as before. Who's taking her to school? How? Bus? 
  • The after school routine- who will pick him up? Who will be waiting after the bus? What will you do after that - rest, play outside, soccer, etc.? 
  • School lunch - the option to get lunch there, what that's like, read the menu, pick foods that she likes, give her some choice and voice. 
  • Talk about her teacher. Help her remember the teacher's name. Convince him that the teacher is super nice and helpful. 
  • Talk about going potty. What will be different? Remind them to wash their hands, etc. 
  • Talk about fun things you remember from school like learning numbers and playing on the monkey bars.
  • Talk about being a good friend, sharing, being nice to others, letting others sit with them, being kind. 

It's a fun time! Remember to talk about how much fun this is! It's a big change and transitions are tough... but they are also filled with happy anticipation.

Good luck to all mommas and babies heading off to the Big K!

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