Is you child starting Kinder (Tasmania) or Pre-school (NSW) in 2016? Are they ready? Are you ready?
There are many things you can do to help your child have a smooth transition into this new experience, both practically and socially.
In a practical way, is your child able to take themselves to the toilet unassisted – to wipe themselves, wash their hands etc. If not, starting showing them and encouraging them to take a more active role.
Can they open or unwrap the food you will be providing? Have a practice with undoing a foil wrapped biscuit or a glad-wrapped sandwich, as well as opening the lunch box or unzipping it themselves. While teachers and aides are very willing to assist the children, it may take a while if there are 10 -20 children requiring help! There’s also a real ego boost for your child when he/she manages to do these things themselves – a real sense of achievement!
Can they recognise their clothing? If they take off their jumper at the sandpit, do they know it’s theirs when they go looking for it?
Can they go to the toilet by themselves? If not practice now at home, and encourage them – to remove their clothing, to wipe themselves, to wash their hands etc.
Can your child ask questions or approach the educator with a concern? At home it’s very easy for you to anticipate your child’s needs and to step in a solve the issue before the child has asked eg “Oh you’ve spilt your milk. You want a cloth to wipe it up.” or “I’ll open the door for you so you can go outside” – in both of these cases the parents’ actions have taken away the child’s need to start the problem solving process by asking a question. Practice letting go of ‘taking over’ and instead let the child start to voice their desire or issue.
Also, is your child able to take turns in play, and share toys and experiences? If not, one good way to practice is in playing games both with inside and outside play. Inside it might be in a board game, where everyone takes turns to play. Outside it could be taking turns to climb the slippery dip.
Can your child wait for short periods? Some times in a school environment, children have to wait for a short while eg wait to go outside until everyone has their hats on. You can practice this at home now… when you are hanging the washing out and your child asks you to open the door to go inside, you could say: “when I’ve hung these towels out I can help you. Children need to learn that not everything in our world is immediate and that we often have to wait for short periods.
At Kinder children learn many social skills and also pre-reading and pre-writing skills. You can help them in this by providing opportunities at home such as: developing a love of books, share reading together at bedtime, show them how you read the TV guide, a map, or a recipe. For writing, have a variety of writing implements eg crayons, pencils, textas, and ‘write’ on different papers, cardboard, tissue paper. This also allows children to experiment with the feel of things, and the way it looks.
Can they write, or identify their name? Not all children develop skills at the same time. It’s important that you encourage but not push your child in their skill mastery. You can begin by showing them how to write their first letter – telling them what you are doing eg for Helen you might say we draw a stick down then another one, then join them together with another stick. Capital letters should only be used for the first letter of their name, then use lower case. Most schools and pre-schools will provide a copy of the font they use, so that you can follow the same.
And for the parents…. delight in the fact that your little one has grown up to this stage and is now beginning to explore the world in a bigger way. Make sure you show them your excitement – even if you have butterlies or tears about leaving them. If you do, share that with your partner, your sister and other parents over a cup of coffee. Children need your blessing to feel confident to grow!
Happy Kinder/ Pre-school times ahead!