The transition from preschool to kindergarten can be a very emotional journey for parents. This is a time when our kids go from being Our Babies to being Big Kids. They start working in a class environment, taking homework home, and joining extracurricular activities.
What’s tough about this transition is the transition itself. Our kids develop emotionally, physically, and mentally. It’s fantastic to watch, but it can also make us nostalgic for the days when they were just newborns. When my daughter started kindergarten, I certainly shed some tears dropping her off that first day.
Making this transition looks different for each family, so everyone is going to approach it in their own way. I’ve created a general list of ways that may help you ease the transition for your children and yourself.
Volunteering is a big one, but I know that it’s not an option for everyone. It can be hard to set aside that time with a full work schedule. If you can’t volunteer, ask your kids about what they’re doing in class and try to mirror some of it at home.
For example, I had a newborn during my daughter’s first four weeks in kindergarten. I didn’t get to volunteer until the following May, when kindergarten was almost over. Prior to that, there was an instance when my daughter’s class had caterpillars in their classroom. The whole classroom was waiting until they turned into butterflies so they could set them free outside. I learned from talking with her that she absolutely loves butterflies! So, we started coloring butterflies and doing butterfly art projects by looking up videos on YouTube.
If it’s one thing I know, our kids want us to be involved in some way. There are many ways to understand what’s going on in the classroom.
2. Set a schedule.
Schedules are a lifesaver! We have a morning schedule that we follow before school and a nighttime schedule for after school.
This helps my daughter know what to expect, and to establish a routine. It also helped her transition into kindergarten because she could get used to a structured day.
We may not follow our schedules to a tee every single day (sometimes life happens), but we try to keep pretty close every day. This stability will continue to be an important life skill for your children through kindergarten and onwards.
3. Communicate with the teacher.
If you want to connect with your children to foster their development and get involved with their schooling, contacting the teacher is a great way to find out more!
They can help you understand what your children are learning, what to expect, and what’s coming up. They’re also a great source for ideas on how to implement what they’re learning in class at home. Keeping in touch with your child’s progress can inform you on how they’re handling the transition from preschool to kindergarten.
4. Go to all the birthday parties you can (and invite everyone to your child’s).
This is important in the social aspect of kindergarten. This is how children make friends, socialize, and connect with other kids in their class.
If children are spending some time outside of school together, (i.e. playdates, birthday parties, etc.), they’ll bond better in school. Plus, it just makes their life more fun!
5. Have your child pick an extracurricular activity.
This is where our schedule sometimes shifts! But, having an extracurricular activity like soccer, dance, playing an instrument, educational games such as chess, or something else, is essential for your kids’ development and stimulate their minds as they transition from preschool to kindergarten.
They’ll have something outside of their day to day just for them. Plus, there are a lot of benefits to kids starting sports/instruments at a young age. They can play around with different activities and see which one they really like.
My daughter started out with jiu-jitsu and decided she didn’t like it, so we tried soccer. That didn’t work out either, and after a series of testing other activities, we ended up with cheerleading. She loves it, and looks forward to going to every session!
These activities are also a great way for your child to make friends with other kids who have the same interests.
6. Read to your child for 20 minutes each night.
Reading is one of those activities that my husband and I sometimes drop the ball on, but we try to do it every night. In our busy lives, this is a time just for us. This is our time to wind down and bond with our daughter before she goes to sleep and she loves it.
Not everyone has the time or can do this, and I totally understand that. However, even if it’s one quick 5-minute book, it makes a difference.
This is when children are learning to read, write, and sound out their words, etc. Having you, their parent/guardian/caretaker, there for support means more than you know.
The transition from preschool to kindergarten can be difficult, especially if your child didn’t attend preschool. Sometimes, I feel like the transition is harder for the parents than it is for the kids!
Either way, the tips above are a good start to helping your child make this transition more easily. Good luck!