This past year, our eldest son started Kindergarten, and it has been so amazing to see him learn and grow in this new environment despite all that is going on in the world. As this is my eldest child, I had a lot of emotions sending him to school and found these tips very helpful in making sure it was a smooth transition.
Familiarize your child with the school.
This one was crucial for us, because we know that our son is a bit sensitive and we wanted to make sure that he felt comfortable going to a new place. We started doing this by just driving by the school and saying, "hey bud, here is your new school". We did this a few times and sometimes he would ask to drive by when we were out, and we tried to do this as much as we could for him. We also went to the playground at the school a few times prior to him going to the school so he also got to see how much fun school could be.
Talk about school with your kids
We wanted to be really open with our son about school, so we talked about it a lot. We were very honest and open saying that he may not know anyone in the class, but none of the other kids would either and so they would all be making new friends. We discussed how there would be a classroom and a desk, and that he would spend time sitting at his desk and we talked about the different things they do in school, music classes, gym classes, outside time, and we also talked about how he would be learning French, since we had decided to put him in a French Immersion program.
Take time off so that you don't have any other thoughts but their school
I had the first week of school off and it was really helpful, our school has a "gradual entry" program for Kindergarten, so they started by going 2 hours the first day, and then 4 hours for 3 days, and then 5 hours, and then 6 hours and so on. So being off the first week really helped to make sure I was completely available to our son and was not rushed or distracted during drop off and pick up times.
Ask your child their favorite thing about the day at Pick ups
I really wanted school to always be a positive place for our son, and to always hit on the positives. So, something I started doing at every pick up is asked our son what his favorite thing was that day. This allowed him to recount the day and think about what he enjoyed, leaving school on a positive note. I saw this help a lot as he no longer wanted to tell me about something negative that happened and instead was excited to share something good.
Make an effort to make play dates with their friends
Ensuring your child is comfortable with their friends at school is huge. So even if it is out of your comfort zone it is so crucial to start off by making relationships with their friends’ parents and to show your child that their friendships are important to you. There are people in my life that I have known since Kindergarten, so keep that in mind - your child may know these people for the rest of their lives. So, by nurturing those friendships they make early on, you help to show them the power of a great friendship.
Have good communication with the teacher
This is something that is so important and seems really obvious but for some parents I can definitely see it is a lot harder than for others. But we are our children’s biggest advocates so I was pleasantly surprised when the teacher and I had conversations and she would ask me how I felt on things and how she really wanted his experience to be a team effort with us both. I was able to voice opinions on things that I didn’t agree with, and bring things up to the teacher than I knew were a struggle so she could help me work on them. It doesn't hurt than I strongly believe we hit the gold mine on teachers.
Another tip just for you, is be okay with change and growth. Something that I have seen myself struggle with is watching him get older. Wanting to keep him little forever, I have really seen this hold him back. But as soon as I started to embrace the change we were going through and being positive and helping him understand that it was okay to grow and change, we both became so much happier with this new stage of life. I can't believe that in just a few months he will be moving on to grade 1. I hope these tips help and I wish your little one all the best in this new stage