Starting Kindy is a big milestone in your child’s life, but there are lots of little things you can do to help them prepare for this exciting new experience.
Set the scene
What do you remember about Kindy and Pre-school? Did you love it and make lots of friends? Did you enjoy learning and playing? Tell your child about it!
Sharing your experiences can help your child get excited about Kindy and reduce any fears they might have about being separated from you. Drop the idea of Kindy into conversations with your child whenever occasion arises, and even do occasional drive-pasts so that it becomes familiar to them and won’t seem so daunting. Let your child know that Kindy is a great experience and that you will be there at the end of every day to greet them and hear all about it.
Get your child involved
Your child will appreciate feeling they have some involvement in the preparation for Kindy, so provide your child plenty of opportunity to ask questions and talk about it. Take them with you to choose their Kindy bag, water bottle and anything else they will need for day one, and let them help with naming their items if they want to – it’s all good cooperation practice! Be sure to choose items that your child will be able to clearly identify as theirs, and a water bottle that they can easily open and close without help.
If you can, arrange a time for your child to visit the Kindy in advance so they can get an idea of what to expect. Knowing where to find the toilets, seeing other children engaged in fun activities, and meeting their Kindy teachers will all help to make starting Kindy a lot less overwhelming!
Children don’t need to be able to do everything by themselves, but helping them become more independent with smaller everyday tasks can help to reduce their anxiety about being in a new environment. If your child can put on their own shoes, manage going to the toilet, blow their nose, wash their hands, and pack their own bag their confidence will shine.
Don’t worry if your child doesn’t ‘master’ these skills before starting Kindy; your Kindy teachers are there to help, and all children will learn and develop in their own time. Kindy is the perfect environment for learning!
Can you open your lunchbox by yourself? Do you want to practice packing your bag? Are you confident about using the toilet by yourself? Can you put your shoes on without my help? Inviting your child to practice these skills at home will build their confidence and sense of achievement, helping them feel ready for Kindy.
This is the time for parents to step back a little from the urge to do everything for their child. Yes, we know – it can be hard to let go, but seeing the big grin on your child’s face when they accomplish a new task is it’s own reward, and you’ll be glad of the extra time this will free up for you too!
Tip: It’s ok to serve your ‘at home’ lunch in a lunch box so that little fingers can practice opening clasps and unwrapping food, but Glad Wrap is tricky stuff to unwrap. With a compartment box food doesn’t require individual wrapping, and Internet searches provide some great lunchtime food inspiration.
For some children Kindy is their first experience of being in a structured group environment. Planning activity ideas, participating in packing away, playing cooperatively, negotiating and working together are all important skills that your child will develop at kindergarten, and you can prepare your child by encouraging cooperation at home. Give your child little responsibilities like packing up their toys and putting clothes away, invite them to help you with tasks like setting the table or preparing lunch, and organise play dates and visits to play groups so that your child can practice their social skills. Play board games with your child to help them learn about taking turns, how to win and lose graciously, and develop numeracy skills.
Tip: Local libraries are a great place to find structured craft sessions and workshops where your child can practice participating in a timed activity, as well as providing opportunities to develop literary knowledge.
Get into a routine
A day at Kindy is full of routine and you can help your child prepare for this by practicing a similar routine at home.
Encourage your child to have breakfast, be dressed, and ready to leave the house in good time, and contact your child’s kindergarten in advance to ask what their daily schedule looks like so that your child can gradually adjust to it. If your child knows when to expect fruit and lunch breaks, quiet time, story time and active play they will feel more settled, and you can confidently look forward to seeing your child flourish.
This article was endorsed by Banks Street Kindy, 15 Banks Street, Newmarket. For details of their enrollments, please call 3352 6940 or visit banksstkindy.org
This article featured in Issue 30 of our printed magazine, published October 2018.