When I taught kindergarten a few years ago, I would be asked time and time again by parents on how to get their child adjusted to kindergarten. After all, it is a LOT different than preschool. My son just started kindergarten and I am now experiencing what these parents were talking about. A lot of these tips can be applied for all school aged children (and my fellow teachers).
The first and foremost thing is to be sure that your child is getting enough sleep. Did you know that 5 to 6 year olds need 11 to 12 solid hours of sleep? Sleep is essential to learning, it promotes alertness, memory and performance. Children who get enough sleep are more likely to function better at school work and are less likely to have behavioral problems. And we all know how moody our little ones can get, sleep can help with that! Preschoolers nap in the middle of the day. For my son not having the nap is a huge adjustment and he will try to sleep on the way home from school. I try to keep him occupied by playing educational car games with him to keep him awake. If he falls asleep, he won’t go to bed on time.
Secondly, be sure to establish a routine. Kids need to have a routine that makes them feel secure and helps them control themselves. Having a structure helps kids feel safe and ready for the daily challenges they will face at school. Children do best when routines are regular, predictable, and consistent. Practice the same activities in the morning before school, eat breakfast, talk about what they are going to do at school that day, and put them on the bus (or drive them) with a smile on your face. Kids need to have positive energy in the morning before school. After school provide a routine that includes homework time, play time, as well as family time.
Speaking of homework, today’s kindergarten is not like what we remember kindergarten to be like. Expectations are through the roof and teachers are expected to have kids reading before they enter first grade. I have taught both kindergarten and first grade and I can tell you that if a student is entering first grade without being able to read simple books, they are behind. This focus on academics is a lot different than what our kids are used to in preschool. Now, I am not telling you to spend and hour every night on homework and reading (that isn’t developmentally appropriate), I am simply asking you to read with your child every single day. I love reading “night night” stories with my son and daughter. Having a routine of reading every night will instill in your child how important reading is.
Finally, I can’t stress how important eating good meals are. My son only gets about 20 minutes to eat his lunch and often he doesn’t have time to finish it. I provide him with a snack after school (he eats it in my classroom) before we head home. I also make sure he eats a variety of healthy food for dinner especially foods high in protein. I can tell when he hasn’t eaten well the night before, he is usually pretty grumpy in the morning.
I have loved being a contributor for the Playtex Baby Mom Trust Facebook page this year. I hope you continue to visit this wonderful resource for parents. You can read more about how other moms are adjusting their kids to school this year.