How to Prepare for the First Day of Kindergarten

By Dr. Rick Bavaria

Parenting

You knew this day would come: the first day of kindergarten. Your child is taking another step – an early one – toward the independence we’re raising all our kids for.

You’ve been reading to and with your child. You regularly show how your family values learning. The two of you have been counting together. He or she knows colors. He or she recognizes letters, especially the ones that spell his or her name. Your child plays nicely with other kids. He or she listens (mostly).

Now it’s time for “big kid” school. You know your child is ready but want to make sure he or she feels ready, too.

Sadly, the excitement of getting kids ready and excited to take the school bus, of picking out a backpack and lunch box are all going by the wayside, knowing that either it’s a totally different year or completely virtual.

Even amidst the changes, here are some tips to get your child ready for any kindergarten learning environment, and help ease anxiety

Happy kindergarten schoolgirls

1. Relax, think and speak positive. Kids are perceptive and they hear EVERYTHING! If you sound anxious when you talk about school, they’ll learn to be anxious, too. Avoid having conversations with other adults about how you’re feeling about the new COVID-19-sensitive environment in front of them.

We all know these are unprecedented times, but we need to continue to put forth positive thoughts and statements around learning for kids. Children feed off their parents’ energy, so try to say encouraging things like, “We’ll figure this out!” and “We’ve got this!” Having a positive attitude about the school year will be crucial in keeping them motivated and dedicated to doing their best.

2. Talk. Talk about the new and exciting things virtual school will offer, such as learning how to use technology, meeting a new teacher, making new friends or learning new games. Explain that there are lots of opportunities for coloring, drawing, singing, playing and learning about new things. Tell your child about the things you liked about school, your good memories, the nice teachers and so on. You can talk about how this has never been done before! Students of 2020/2021 school year are pioneers!

3. Listen. Really listen. Ask how your child is feeling. What are they looking forward to? What makes them nervous? If your child is nervous about something, he or she will let you know. Maybe not in words, though. So watch expressions, notice the topics that get brought up repeatedly and listen for tone of voice. Excitement is loud. Fear is whispered. Be encouraging, and if necessary, reassuring.

4. Set expectations. Even little ones need to know what’s coming and what to expect. Find out what your school and teacher’s plans are and walk through what a typical day will look like. Let them know what they’ll be doing online and what they’ll be doing on their own or with their caretaker.

5. Create (and stick) to routines. This is very important: kids need routines. Routines make them feel safe. Routines enable them to know what’s expected of them and what comes next. Before school starts, begin setting bedtime, mealtime, playtime and family time routines. Stick to them.

This is a great age for learning. Kindergarteners love learning new things, showing off their knowledge to you and becoming “big kids.” This is an exciting time for them. Do everything you can to support this excitement, nurture it, love it, show how it makes you proud, and extend it as long as possible.

If your school is 100% virtual …

There are still opportunities for your child to get face-to-face time with teachers (nothing can replace that!).

Sylvan Learning has wonderful, early learning programs for young students. Our beginning reading program is specifically catered for helping little ones get the foundational skills for success in school. From recognizing letters, to identifying sounds, to learning to read words — we can grow your child’s confidence, nurture his or her sense of wonder and build a strong foundation for reading in elementary school. Get your child off to a wonderful start in school with kindergarten reading tutoring!

Click here to learn more about Sylvan’s kindergarten reading programs.

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