Caps are being decorated, Pomp and Circumstance fills the air, and your baby is on their way to a new chapter. It’s graduation time for high school seniors and for many children graduating Florida VPK (Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten). It may seem like years down the road before your child celebrates their high school graduation but investing in their learning today will help them succeed tomorrow. So, let’s start with how we can prepare them for kindergarten.
Regardless of whether your child attends Florida VPK, or not, you should still consider how to transition them for their new kindergarten adventure. It’s a scary time for many children and for many parents. Parents and children are filled with questions, concerns, and emotions.
I’m going through this same process myself, and my advice is to keep communication open with your child and incorporate daily talks about them going into kindergarten while on a drive in the car or over dinner.
What to do before the first day of Kindergarten
Some children will continue to go to the same school while others will be starting at a brand new one. Make sure you visit the school at least twice before their first day. Tour the school and make sure they get to meet their teacher.
Hype-up how exciting and fun kindergarten is and how proud you are of them for what they have accomplished already. Building their confidence is key, especially during times of positive stress.
Talk to your child about how they will get to and from school. Some kids will be driven by their parents, some will ride a bus, some will be picked-up by an after-school shuttle, but make sure you show them where to look for their ride and point out unique markings on the vehicle that will pick them up. This is also a good time to start teaching children a phone number where they can reach you.
Kindergarten School Lunch Prep
School lunch can be overwhelming, as parents we want to make sure our child is getting proper nutrition while we are away. Talk about healthy food options with your child and if you are packing their lunch, get them involved in grocery shopping with you so you are making tasty, nutritious lunches they’ll love (no child wants a crunchy PB&J when they like creamy).
If your child is getting hot lunch, show them a video of a school cafeteria line while pointing out the staff they may see or questions they’ll be asked. Go over table manners and let your child help with clearing the dining table at home to better prepare them for cleaning up their lunch mess.
More activities to do at home to get ready for the first day of Kindergarten
The summer can be a busy time filled with vacations where you aren’t home with all your books, paper, crayons, and pencils but don’t let that stop you from teaching your child. Have them say the letters in signage they see and sound out the words, practice writing words in the sand while at the beach or with a stick in the dirt.
When you snuggle in at night, let your child summarize what they did during the day and practice using descriptive words. End your night with a book about what to expect for kindergarten to help build excitement and ease fears for a good night sleep.
The Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County is full of great resources for transitioning your little one into kindergarten. Visit the Kindergarten Transition page at www.elchc.org for engaging activities to do this summer and additional tips for a smooth transition.
*Presented by The Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County | Image: Family reading photo created by freepik