Children and families respond differently to the transition to kindergarten. For some it is a smooth process, while for others it is a nightmare - a string of stressful experiences. It is a good idea for all parents to prepare and do their "homework" when its time for their child to transition to kindergarten.
Transition to kindergarten is a process, not a static event. Thus parents must support their child before, during, and after transition. The findings of the studies on children's transition to school conducted by National Center for Early Development and Learning (NCEDL), USA, confirms that the most important for the transition process are the relationships - those between children and teachers, parents and teachers, children and their peers, and children and their parents. According to parents, when these relationships recognize the needs of the child, and when regular communication occurs about those needs and is sustained over time, children appear to adjust well during this period of change.
Some helpful hints to parents in easing transition to kindergarten:
- First of all, contact your local school district office (you can get the telephone number from the yellow pages) to inquire about the registration information. Registration begins in spring. Once you have registered your child in the school and in after school program, a lot of stress pertaining to kindergarten transition will be elevated off your shoulders and this will give you ample time to focus on getting your child ready for new school and changes warranted in family's routine considering your work demands and your child's new schedule.
- You must attend the orientation session at your child's new school. In the overview the principal and teachers usually cover a variety of topics and provide useful information for parents on such kindergarten issues as curriculum, parent involvement, schedules, before- and after-school care, food programs, extra-curricular activities, special education and general ideas on how to assist children for a successful transition to kindergarten. This gives you an opportunity to meet the principal and teachers in a non-threatening, informal atmosphere.
- Child and parent familiarity with school prior to the start of kindergarten is a very beneficial strategy to ease transition. Attending open house or touring the neighborhood where the child's new school is located proves to be beneficial. Take a photograph of your child's new school and post it in your child's room and have a picture talk with your child. If you go on vacation during summer before your child starts kindergarten, take the photograph with you on your trip. Ongoing conversations about school will make your child feel comfortable when she/he will start kindergarten.
- Read books to your child with school themes.
- Be enthusiastic rather than anxious of your child's transition. This will be helpful in making your child enthusiastic of her/his transition to new school.
- Be supportive to your child when she/he begins kindergarten.
- Spare some time and talk to your child about her/his day at school. Instead of asking open-ended questions, familiarize yourself with your child's kindergarten daily routine and ask specific questions related to activities conducted in your child's class. You are more likely to be successful in getting a response from your child.
- Ongoing communication between school and family about your child's needs is a must. Regular meetings with your child's teacher, to solve any difficulties your child is experiencing in the school is important. If your job demands are heavy, written correspondence can be an option.
Parental involvement is another way to make your child feel comfortable in her/his new school. Get involved in your child's school activities!
Please share your ideas or suggestions that might help parents make their child's transition to kindergarten a smooth process.