First day of kindergarten. It is a huge step for the whole family , do you know how to prepare yourself for school? Gone are the trips to preschool with 3 teachers in the classroom, endless cuddles if they are crying when you leave and endless hours of craft and singing. It’s here. The time when there is only 1 teacher, it’s not cool to cry when mum leaves and although there is craft it’s buckle down time to learn to read and write.
The transition to school can be a hard one for both parents and children. It is a large adjustment and one that although we were fairly prepared for it, there were some things that we, as parents weren’t prepared for.
- Preparing Emotionally. In Australia, there is a huge gap with the age that your child can start school. A child can start kindergarten anywhere between the ages 4 1/2 years old and 6 years old. That is a huge gap mentally, emotionally and physically. Thankfully both my children were born in July and so started at 5 1/2 years old which I think is smack bang right in the middle. When they are at school, particularly in the playground your child is one of over 200 kids being watched by just 1 teacher. Pre school would see every accident, every accidental hit, every cry but not at school. There are many incidents or accidents that the teachers just simply don’t see because the playground is large and there is a lot going on. Your child needs to be emotionally and mentally able to cope with the possibility that something may happen and the teacher won’t see it. It may be as simple as grazing their knee and knowing to go to the teacher or go to the office to get band aids etc. Or it could be that some child has just thrown their lunch across the playground. It is important that your child is aware that some situations will happen without a teacher to see it. They don’t need to be aware of exactly how to “handle” the situation but it is important that they are just aware that it may be up to them to pick themselves up and go to the office or go to the teacher.
- There is no day book. At preschool in Australia, we get a pdf sent through to our email every day showing us beautiful pictures and stories of what a fabulous day our kids have had. I love this and I love seeing what my kids have been doing during the day. Many of the things you are not told about as they simply don’t remember all the things they did so this is an insightful way to see what is happening. This doesn’t happen at school. There is no book that tells us what is going on in the classroom and you will be lucky if you hear about one thing that actually happened in class. We try to discuss at dinner time one great thing we remember from school today and sometimes we can get something out of it, other days it is just what zombie game they played with at lunch time. But at least it’s something.
- The teacher is not available all the time. Our preschool was a wonderful environment where the manager of the centre or the teacher were always available for a chat. If our manager was sitting at her desk, just come on in. There was never a time she was not available to chat. Same goes for our teachers. If they were there and not talking to someone else, feel free to pull up a chair. Obviously, if it was a bit more than just a chat you would make a time to see them, but generally they were more than happy to discuss. School is not the same. Each afternoon and morning are busy so times need to be scheduled to meet with the teacher.
- Homework. I personally think that they get way too much homework in kindergarten and year 1, but that is my personal opinion. I completely understand the need for homework and actually see benefits as far as being a parent you can see what they are doing and where they are up to level wise if you participate with them. We have spelling, home readers, Mathletics and Reading Eggs and news presentation weekly which are great for them to keep up with what they are doing in the classroom. It is important for them to get into the routine of doing homework and after they have had a play in the afternoon we try and find time to sit down for half an hour to do this. Sometimes it doesn’t always work way but I think as long as it is fairly consistent in the early years.
- They are now independent. I have noticed a huge difference in my son and his thinking and also some of his language! All of a sudden their friends are now starting to influence them in how they think, the games they play and how they speak. You suddenly realise it isn’t just you who influences your child anymore which is scary but also exciting at the same time. We went through many stages of bad behaviour followed by good behaviour due to different influences and friends which is all perfectly normal as they learn and grow and find out who they are as people. It is an adjustment for you as a parent though realising this is the start of them going out into the world a lot more!
It is an amazing journey watching your child go from toddler to boy or girl and now as life starts to influence them and their decisions and opinions all you can do is help and be there to guide them as always. Hopefully, some of these points help you in the journey of starting school.