Change can be tough for anyone, but especially for young children. When it’s time for kids to start kindergarten, many of them are very apprehensive about the unknown and what may lie ahead. When parents watch their five-year-old walk through the school’s front doors for the first time, they may smile broadly and wave goodbye — but they are commonly feeling just as anxious about these changes as their child. Offer these tips to parents to ease the kindergarten transition for everyone, including you.
Talk early, talk often. The time for parents to start talking to their child about kindergarten is not the week before it begins, but months beforehand. Some parents naturally weave in conversations about the school experience during daily activities with their children – almost from birth on – and these children are subsequently much less likely to feel apprehensive about facing their first day of school. When parents view the transition as a natural, positive and expected one, children will, too. While it’s common to feel sad about seeing your child grow up, focus on all the exciting experiences your little one is about to encounter.
Plan ahead. With the beginning of school comes a much busier family schedule. When your child’s teacher sends home a school calendar (and some schools post calendars online), grab a marker and post every relevant event for the entire school year on your family’s calendar. Even kindergarteners have teacher conferences, open houses and field trips. If you plan ahead, you will avoid the disappointment that you – and your child – will feel if you miss an important event because you didn’t remember it or make arrangements to attend.
Create a school binder. Prepare a file to store all of the teacher’s notes, informational letters and other important papers your child will bring home each week and keep it in a convenient place. If you already have a place to put all that paperwork, you will be less apt to lose an important paper that you might need to refer to later. Some things you can store inside your binder include contact information for the school and your child’s teacher, lunch menus, the school handbook and any of your child’s school work you wish to keep. You can also keep copies of medical documents in the binder that your child might need later for sports or other activities. Being organized will reduce household stress, which will also make transitioning less taxing for your kindergartener.
Make known the unknown. If your child hasn’t visited his classroom yet and school will begin before an open house is scheduled, make arrangements for your child to do so. She will feel less anxious if she is familiar with the building and knows where the classroom is. Meeting the teacher is a big help, as well. Knowing what to expect on her first day will help her avoid one of the chief worries of kindergarten – fear of the unknown. And it just might make you feel better, too.
It’s back to school time! While many children and parents scramble to purchase new school clothes and school supplies, parents of younger children have a much bigger issue to consider. Kindergarten is a major milestone in a child’s life. Whether you are a working parent or not, it is very important to ensure your child gets the appropriate preparation for kindergarten. Parents can become involved in their toddler’s development through doing a few simple things. Parents should focus on their child’s social life, boost his self awareness, expand his mind, surround him with words, encourage nimbleness, and finally tour his school beforehand. Parents should focus on their child’s social development through enrolling their child in some kind of daycare, preschool, or an extracurricular activity such as dance or gymnastics. If these activities are unavailable, playgroups or even independent outdoor community activities are vital to a child’s social development. These types of activities as well as educational games and educational toys help teach a child how to share toys and collaborate with other children during activities.
Parents can help boost their child’s self awareness by asking the child questions about himself and his demographics, body parts, etc. Doing so also opens up a world of words to the child. Posting letters and words as well as educational toys with letters and words around the child’s atmosphere also helps the child to learn words, letters, numbers, colors, and sounds. If your child is in a daycare or preschool setting, make sure they have educational toys and help expand your child’s mind through everyday activities such as counting objects, making distinctions between concepts, and establishing an understanding of comparison of objects. Educational workbooks are also useful in both childcare settings or in a home setting. When looking for birthday or holiday gifts, parents should look for educational toys instead of video games or movies.
The importance of an early education via preschool or the right childcare setting for your child has been proven. These types of settings can help develop your child’s social, cognitive, and physical skills in preparation for kindergarten. Research shows that an appropriate preschool or childcare setting provides much needed nurture to prepare a child for kindergarten. Parents and childcare providers should also encourage nimbleness through activities which develop fine motor skills such as drawing and handling child sized tools and other objects to strengthen arms, fingers, shoulders, etc. Finally, touring your child’s school and classroom whenever possible is an important step. Parents can reduce kindergarten stress by becoming familiar with the classroom and school grounds prior to the start of school. They can also reassure their child and show their child the school at different times of the day while the students are participating in various activities. When the child is prepared, they will feel less pressure and less stress and will be more confident at the start of kindergarten and throughout the duration of his school years.
The way math is presented to children makes a tremendous difference in their success as learners, as well as your success as an educator. Children need to take part in activities that encourage them to experiment, to investigate, and to record their observations.
Preschool and kindergarten students always need to have things to move around or manipulate in order to make sense of math concepts. In the education world these are called “manipulatives” and there are a great assortment of these available, such as blocks, counters and pattern blocks. Give children ample time to play with the manipulatives in order to satisfy their curiosity about the materials before attempting to use them to teach a math concept. Introduce new math vocabulary as the children play, as this will help them when they participate in teacher led experiences.
Keep structured lessons short to begin with and do not assume the children understand your expectations. Spend a week teaching proper use of materials and proper cleanup. Teach the children to use mats to identify and define their work area.
The following steps work well when teaching young children. First, demonstrate the math activity two or three times before you give the children materials. You will quickly lose the children’s attention if you pass the materials out first. Second, give materials to the children and ask them to try the activity. Check to see all have understood the concept and are experiencing success. Assist children that are having difficulty.
After a few days of the same or similar lessons, record your math experience as the children observe. Keep it simple. For example, after a lesson making repeating patterns print the words, I made a pattern. Say, “I used a red block, a blue block, a red block, a blue block.” Draw the pattern and color the blocks. Pass out paper and have the children draw what they did and record words using their knowledge of letters and letter sounds. Recording the activity gives children an opportunity to share and solidify their knowledge.
Visit my kindergarten site for ideas, activities, tips, games and skills lists about teaching preschool and kindergarten math.
Patricia Bentham is an educator in British Columbia, Canada. She has over twenty years of teaching experience and is the creator of . Patricia has taught classes from K – 12 and adult education. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from the University of Victoria. She has also completed certification programs in Print Design & Typography and Website Design. When not busy on the computer, Patricia loves to sketch, draw, and muck about with paints.