Transitioning To Kindergarten – How Parents Can Help Prepare
It’s that time of year when preschoolers may get anxious about moving to kindergarten. And kindergarten is the first big step into school for many children. So I want to share what resources I’ve been finding for me as a parent, to ease my worries and be a better support to our child.
As someone who was not fortunate to go to preschool, I am being reminded of my experience, and that has guided my search for the unknowns.
Since school starts in less than a month, I’ve really dug into learning what my husband and I can do, as parents, to better support our daughter. You don’t know what you don’t know, right?
From my online research learning, when it comes to what we as parents could be doing more of to make transitioning to Kindergarten better, my favorite site has been Collaboration for Early Childhood—which happens to be a local non-profit knowledge base established by the nearby cities of Oak Park and River Forest. That’s the beauty of search engines isn’t it? Serving up relevant results based on your location and search history.
To help parents and children feel prepared, the Collaboration for Early Childhood compiled this comprehensive springboard page with helpful pointers and tips to ease the transition to Kindergarten. Check it out: https://collab4kids.org/transition-to-kindergarten
And the big take away for me from their site was this goal of being “your child’s first and most important teacher” and getting “connected to local resources.”
The “It takes a village” adage that’s been very pervasive in the zietgist is very true, but I’ve learned that you gotta be the one to embed yourself in your village. You need to be the hunter gather for your family, to find your place. No one is going to come and be your welcome person.
So however you can help them transition into kinderagrten, I encourage you to do it early and consistenly as best you can!
The first big step into school for many kids is kindergarten, and that was true for me. As a child whose parents both worked full-time and had no family or friends in our neighborhood, let alone the country, I was on my own with trying to fit in at school and be a part of school events and programs. So from my experience, I must stress in this article how important it is to check in with your child often, making sure they feel supported, heard, and cared for. You may not be able to be as involved in their school things, but making an effort to be there for them in the ways you can leaves a legacy of love that develops into a child who is secure in themselves and confident.
Homeschooler Parent Thoughts
Outside of research, I also like to get ideas and takes from others to learn about something I’m unsure of.
A local mom friend of mine who is a teacher named Alana, gave me some great advise when we were toying with the idea of doing homeschooling during the pandemic. What I learned from her was how important it is to apply the tips of preparing your child for school through consistent routines, and using some strategies that homeschool parents use, which are very similar. Here’s what Alana said:
“Keep in mind your child does not need a full day of instruction. I teach high school but I run the child care lab in the high school. A lot of a kindergarten day is social interaction, procedures and routines. So have those in mind too.
Start the day off with a morning routine of getting dressed making beds, breakfast, morning chores. Maybe before the weather turns south try and get outside and enjoy a park or something before it’s to hot in the day. I think libraries [sic] still do virtual story times, so consider those in your schedule. Maybe post a schedule with pictures for your child to see your day. Have a set time in the day when you sit down and do the actual curriculum. Plan an art project every couple of days. Be sure they know how to use scissors, a computer mouse, a tablet.“Alana M. (a Tinley Park Mom)
Just a little perspective for those that are new to homeschooling.
You are NOT trying to fill an 8 hour day with sit down school work.
DO NOT try to recreate school at home.
Take a deep breath and know that you
CAN DO this.
HOW LONG IS YOUR HOMESCHOOL DAY?
Preschool- 15 to 30 min
Kindergarten – 30 min to 1 hour
1st to 2nd Grade – 45 min to 1.5 hours
3rd to 4th Grade- 1.5 to 3 hours
5th to 6th Grade – 2.5 to 3.5 hours
7th to 8th grade- 3 to 4.5 hours
High School- 3.5 to 6 hours@totherockhomeschool
Get Ahead On School Supplies: Use New Resources
More schools are offering the simple service of buying all your child’s school supplies ahead of time as a package, saving you time and strife. The one our daughter’s future school uses SchoolToolBox.com as their third-party vendor. You can look up your school the website to see if they have their school supplies list registered in their system.
Look For Kindergarten Readiness Events For Connecting With Your Child’s New Community
Kindergarten Roundup Before First Day
A tip I have for you is check for a special Kindergarten specific event before school starts. For instance, the Kirby School District 140 is having Kindergarten Roundups the week before school starts at all of the elementary schools in that school district. Parents and kids get to hangout and socialize, meet their classmates ahead of time and parents can meet the principle and their child’s teacher too.
Kindergarten Readiness at Tinley Library
Parents in the Tinley Park with a child entering kindergarten this fall also might want to check out this readiness program being offered at the Tinley Park Public Library:
- Ready, Set, Go to Kindergarten on July 27, 2023 from 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM
- Ready, Set, Go to Kindergarten on August 9, 2023 from 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM
- Ready, Set, Go to Kindergarten on August 16, 2023 from 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Choose Your Online Way Of Staying In The Know
You’ll probably be signed up for your school’s parents newsletter, but liking the school Facebook page or other social profiles is another way to stay informed ahead of any news you might need to know later.
Also, look to join any Facebook parent group that’s been established for your school. For instance, one of our Tinley Park Moms admins Alia Shalabi started one for Millennium Falcons Parents (KSD 140) and that’s been a great channel for asking questions of fellow parents at the same school.
Additional Resources for Parents and Caregivers Preparing for Kindergarten:
- KSD 140 Resource Directory from the Kirby School District 140 website.
- Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Entering Kindergarten in Illinois from Illinois Early Learning
- How Parents of Preschoolers Can Support Social-Emotional Development from Brookes Publishing
- Building Social and Emotional Skills at Home from NAEYC
- Social and Emotional Learning: Strategies for Parents from Edutopia
- Digital Apps & Tools for Kindergarten Readiness from Oak Park Public Library
- Helping Preschoolers Build Self-Regulation Skills That Are the Foundation of Success from KQUED
- Ready For Kindergarten Tri-Fold from Collaboration for Early Childhood
- Early Childhood Resource Directory (like before and after school care) from Collaboration for Early Childhood
- Kindergarten Individuals Development Survey (KIDS) from OP97
- Ages & Stages Social-Emotional Questionnaire (ASQ: SE-2) from OP97
- Illinois State Board of Education and Illinois Department of Public Health Release Guidance for 2023-24 School Year (Updated June 13, 2023)
That’s all I got. So I ask you, parents, do you have a child starting kindergarten next month? What are you doing to help them with the transition?