Preparing Your Toddler for Kindergarten
School’s out for the summer, but if your child is entering Kindergarten in the fall this is the perfect time to start creating good habits in preparation for their first day of school. Getting your little one ready for kindergarten marks the start of another amazing milestone in your child’s development.
This new beginning sets your toddler on a path that will lead to future school success. However, it is not always a walk in the park. In fact, you may be having a mix of feelings— excitement at one point and super apprehensive and sad the next. Don’t worry though, these conflicting emotions are normal.
Naturally, this transition will also cause your little one to have mixed feelings too. He or she may feel super proud that they are finally joining the big kids’ club and at the same time feel troubled about being away from you.
With a little bit of practice, you can help get your little one ready for school. Keep reading to find out what you can do to help your toddler prepare for their first day.
#1 Introduce Fun Activities
When preparing your toddler for Kindergarten, you should create fun activities that will keep them engaged for a good amount of time. The point here is to practice their ability to focus on one activity at a time without becoming anxious or fussy. Some of the fun pre-K prep activities you could try are:
- Make Believe In this activity, you could act out the daily routine for a school day. For example, kissing mommy and daddy goodbye, pretending to go to school, carefully hanging your little backpack, and taking part in group time activities such as singing. Constantly reassure your little one that Kindergarten is a great place where he or she will have fun, make some friends and learn lots of stuff.
- Read to your Little One Try visiting the nearest public library and read to your toddler during summer right before they begin school. After reading a book together, try to ask questions about the feelings of the characters and ask your little one about how it makes them feel. Get them to be acquainted with new emotions and help them understand speak their feelings and comprehend the characters.
- Practice Self-Help Skills Self-help skills for your toddler are important and should be taught at home. These self-help skills include using the bathroom, washing hands, zipping up their jacket, and especially practicing putting on their shoes on their own. Whether it’s velcro, laces, or sliding their feet into their shoes, your little one can feel a sense of accomplishment knowing they can get ready all by themselves. These small but simple ways to prepare for school will help your child and also their teacher in the future.
#2 Be Patient and a Good Listener
Your toddler will time after time have questions and tiny concerns about starting kindergarten, this could be before or even after starting school. You can support your little one by:
- Listening Keenly It is natural for you to be fast to reassure him or her that everything will be alright and move on past it. However, it is also very imperative to make sure that your little one knows that his or her concerns are heard. Regardless of how big or small an issue is, always try to make listening to your toddler a priority. These worries and concerns have to be addressed as they begin to think about their kindergarten experience. For example, if your toddler is worried about missing you while at school, you could get your baby a photo of you to take to school so they can look at whenever he or she misses you.
- Watch for Nonverbal Cues Just like the nonverbal cues you see when your child is an infant, the same applies as a toddler in some regard. By the time your toddler is ready to join kindergarten, he or she may still not be able to fully express themselves. This could possibly result in being clingy, aggressive or withdrawn. He or she may also want you to do things for him or her that they can already do on their own. The regressive behavior could be quite frustrating but if you just let them act it out, they will be able to learn how to manage their emotions. All they need at this point is support and patience to get through the great transition.
#3 The Kindergarten Countdown
As you start counting down to the first day of Kindergarten, the following are some of the things to have on your check list.
- Shop for a school backpack with your toddler. In fact, you should let them choose it – It gives the little one some sense of control.
- Your little one is quickly developing their own personality and style. Let them show off their individuality by picking out their own wardrobe and maybe even their own pair of Butler boots to go with it!
- With some permanent ink, label their backpacks, lunch boxes, and especially their favorite toy.
- Plan on the means of transport your little one will use to and from school. Talk to your toddler about where to wait after school so that they may feel safe and cared for from beginning to end.
- If your child is on any medication, talk to the kindergarten’s health professional and provide the school with a detailed list on what to do.
- Get your little one into a kindergarten schedule by using the school bedtime a few weeks before they start school.
#4 First Day of Kindergarten
- Wake up early.
- Prepare Breakfast for you and your toddler. Over breakfast, talk about the day’s routine.
- Get dressed and ready with an outfit set from the day before. For little ones wearing braces or orthotics, sometimes getting dressed and ready for the day might take a few extra minutes in the morning to get ready. While the experiences of wearing a brace at school might be somewhat uncomfortable, you can rest easy knowing their feet will certainly be kept healthy and happy when they come to school in boots that are adaptable, comfortable, and even stylish!
- Pack his or her backpack together. You could let your toddler pack their favorite meal for lunch on the first day.
#5 Once you get to School
- Stay a little while (15 to 30 minutes).
- Try not to look sad or worried. You don’t want your toddler to pick up on that.
- Create a special goodbye routine.
- If your little one cries, as upsetting as it is, don’t run back.
This guest post was written by Natalie Michele, founder of Maternityathome
In the day I am a General Physician and at night I am a devout mother of two. I am always busy but I do love sharing all my knowledge and experience with other mothers or mothers-to-be out there!