Transitioning to Kindergarten
Transitioning to kindergarten from preschool can be a rather stressful experience for both parents and children. It’s an exciting time but at the same time can be an extremely emotional time as well. Whether your child shifts school or continues in the same one, there is a major change in routine which isn’t always easy to adapt to and so it’s a good idea to know what to expect. You need to prepare your child to attune to the new environment and academic expectations and then adapt to it. If you know what to expect and prepare your child accordingly, they will be able to anticipate things and process information efficiently.
At preschool a child may have to complete a single task and go off and play when it’s completed. In kindergarten a child has to spend a longer time with an activity and requires auditory attention to understand and follow several instructions and directions. This might put your child out of their comfort zone as they have to adjust their body and perspective several times and also regulate their actions and emotions. They also spend a lot more time in kindergarten with their classmates rather than in individual activity and have to adjust to teacher-led instruction. Your child now has to think as a part of a team and has to adjust to group activity. They have to learn social collaboration and you as a transitional kindergarten parent can only help them if you know what to expect and understand what is the difference between preschool and kindergarten.
Building Social Skills
On entering kindergarten your child will have to attune to new peers and surroundings which is quite a shift from the self-attuned preschooler. The skills of observing, listening and perceiving what they should be doing next will be gradually honed. When a child enters their classroom and sees other children sitting and painting, he should be able to conclude that he too is expected to sit and paint. This perception will prevent the child from getting distracted and make the learning experience more effective.
Auditory processing attunes the child to follow the teacher’s instructions and act accordingly to complete a task. Repetition by the teacher will support this learning curve through the year.
The ability to think as part of a team and follow instructions, listen, change behaviour and anticipate things are what lead to executive function, a set of neurological skills that augur well for self-regulation and mental control. A strong foundation of executive function skills is of supreme importance for all future learning.
Understanding Numbers and Letters
These soft social skills we just mentioned prepare the ground for learning of the ‘harder skills’ like the understanding of numbers and letters. When they enter kindergarten, they are expected to recognize both upper and lower case letters. They should also be able to understand the difference between sounds, letters and words and that each word denotes a meaning that can be strung into a sentence. They must also know number formation which will help them in learning how to break out numbers.
Fine Motor Skills
A child who enters kindergarten should be able to hold a pencil or crayon as through the year they will need to be able to express their ideas, thoughts and experiences through writing and drawing.
How to Prepare Your Child
- If the preschooler is attending kindergarten in the same school, visit the classroom with them several times during the year. This makes them familiar with it and the transition is smooth. If the preschool and kindergarten do joint activities, your child will definitely be more comfortable when transitioning.
- If they are moving to a new school, prepare them by talking to them about it. Encourage them to express their feelings and talk about their concerns and fears. Tell them how much you will miss them but how proud you are now that they are so grown up.
- Encourage them to take care of their personal needs like washing their hands and going to the bathroom before they join kindergarten. Give them opportunities to develop motor skills that require balance and coordination like skipping or riding a small bike or joining in team activities. Fine motor skills like holding a pencil and writing should also be encouraged. They should also be taught to manage their behaviour and say what they are feeling in a healthy way.
- You can also support learning at home before they join kindergarten like reading to them every day, giving them crayons or coloured pencils for drawing and colouring and scissors for cutting. Playful number activities, identifying and saying the number before and after a given number as well as recognition and speaking of letters are all a great help for a transitional kindergartener. Give them Legos for developing fine motor skills and coordination. And most important of all, give them opportunities to make smart choices and decisions.
- Before your child joins school, remember to inform the teacher about any allergies or special needs they might have. Start the school routine early to avoid stress, label everything and get into the habit of reading books together to strengthen your bond with your child.
- Say goodbye to your child on the first day on a positive note and avoid any behaviour which might upset your child.
- Be supportive and talk to your child as much as possible about school.
It is important to remember that each transitional kindergarten child comes with a wide range of skills that are different from one another. The same is true when a child will transition from kindergarten to first grade. And though you should definitely not try to drill them with the entire syllabus before they enter kindergarten, it’s a good idea to be prepared and know what to expect so that it’s a great and pleasurable experience for both you and your child. You can always get in touch with EuroKids for further guidance and help to make this transition easier on your munchkin.