R starts kindergarten in September, and we’ve already started getting ready: paperwork, assessments, and lectures about transition and logistics.
Last week, I received a letter inviting us to a tour of the school–at 1 PM on a Monday, which is challenging for this working parent. Thankfully, our school said R and I could stop by on another day to get that tour, at our convenience–flexibility I very much appreciate.
I sense, however, that the carefully constructed schedule we’ve worked hard to hold together these past five years is going to fall apart come September 3. No more 7:30 AM to 6:00 PM daycare. No more knowing the days daycare will be closed (except for snow emergencies) a year in advance. No more only one drop-off and pick-up. No more of daycare’s mindful scheduling of events for working parents.
Instead, we’re going to have unexpected closings, a mid-day closing every week, lots of holidays, summer vacation, events smack in the middle of the day that are impossible for working parents to attend, and dual drop-off and pick-ups, as G will be in daycare in one town and R will be in kindergarten and afterschool in another.Stress thy name is kindergarten.
As we make our tentative steps toward September, I am gathering “strategies for success” from other parents, our school, and parenting resources, so my little boy can have a great year–and we can all emerge from this important childhood event with smiles instead of gray hair. To that end, here are 8 tips to get your child ready for kindergarten:
- Visit the playground – Take your child to the playground at the new school so s/he can get familiar with the surroundings.
- Go on playdates – Many towns, like mine, sponsor meet-ups for incoming kindergarteners, which is a great way to meet other children in your neighborhood or who will be attending your school.
- Read books – Ask your librarian (or your friendly Google) for kids books about the transition to kindergarten. The Mrs. Bindergarten books have been recommended to me and are now on our list for the next trip to the library.
- Make a photo album – Take pictures of your child’s new school, the playground, and the bus or sites along the way to school, if you’re going to be a walker, and put together a photo album or photo book that you can review with your child. This can be a jumping off point for conversation about how s/he is feeling about the change.
- Ask questions – Reach out to other parents with kids who are already enrolled in your new school to understand the ins and outs of the school. They’ll be helpful in deciphering protocol, can recommend a good backpack, and can suggest other transition strategies.
- Get involved – Join the PTA and sign up for the school email listserv. Get familiar with the school website and start monitoring it. Once school starts, consider volunteering in your child’s class or with one of the many activities at the school (some of which are in the evening!) so you are more connected to the school community.
- Don’t overcommit – Be mindful of the changes your child—and you!—will be going through, and don’t overschedule the after school hours with activities. Make space for downtime. Activities can be a terrific addition to the school day but first figure out what works best for your family.
- Be positive and confident – This last one is for me, the parent who cries at all milestones. Our kids pick up on our feelings so be discreet about any concerns about the move to kindergarten. Be supportive and emphasize your child’s past successes as examples of times when s/he has done well and explain that this transition will be another success.
I’m also going to spend the summer adjusting my work schedule to our new school reality. Giving myself a few weeks to get used to a different routine will be just as important as addressing this change with R.
If you have suggestions for getting ready for the big K, please share them in the comments!