Going to Kindergarten

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Sharon Cooperative School Transition Meeting

  • Try to see the difference between adult issues (things you worry about) and child issues (things your child is worried about).
  • The children coming from the Coop are very ready for Kindergarten. They understand the rhythm of the day and what is expected of them. They know when to talk and when to listen; they understand the classroom dynamic. They are socially and academically ready.
  • The Coop emphasizes to the outgoing Kindergarteners that lunch will be 20 minutes (that includes standing in line for food if buying) and they have to learn to eat faster if they want to eat. Four and five year olds now have only 30 minutes for lunch. Sometimes in the beginning of the Kindergarten year, children come home from school having not had their lunch because they like to talk and be with their friends. They can eat their snack (brought from home) in the morning and can eat their lunch as well as the afternoon snack (provided by aftercare) if they want to around 3:30.
  • The two biggest transitions are the lunch being so short and the stamina and energy needed to attend to the teaching each day. There is a lot of time spent listening and this is very different than at the Coop. It’s a different kind of energy needed and five year olds can come home “frazzled” from it the first couple of months.
  • Recommendation: Sleep is essential and the parents recommended starting to move the bedtime 15 minutes earlier before school starts and allowing them to sleep later if you can to prepare for the new routines and expectations. Sleep is often the essential ingredient to coping and resiliency.
  • Recommendation: If you are taking the bus, go to the bus stop the first day of school (which is not the first day for Kindergarteners) and meet the driver and watch the process. This will help when it is your child’s turn to get on the bus the next day.
  • Schools will allow you to walk your child into the building the first few days but after that they request that you drop them at the door of the school and not come in. They have systems in place  (older children mentors) to make sure your child gets to where they need to go.
  • Before school and after school is excellent – really good teachers with great activities. Highly recommended by parents if you need to use it. One parent says that for children with high energy, before school care allows them to be physically active before school allowing them to be ready to sit and attend.
  • The communications from school to home in Kindergarten are very different from the Coop – no more daily blog posts, pictures, checking in with teachers and Director, etc.
  • Some teachers have blogs, some send end of week emails, children will have “magic” folders to bring work and communications back and forth from home to school.
  • Recommendation: Visit the school, go to any events that you are invited to. Play on the playground on weekends. If you meet another family, make a play date so the children will at least recognize a friendly face when they start.
  • Classrooms and teachers can be very different. You will get caught up in the chatter about which teacher is best or worst. Not every teacher is for every parent. The best teacher for one child may not be the best teacher for another.
  • Teachers do not get enough positive feedback. When you can, tell them when they do things that make a difference, make a positive impact.
  • Children need to learn a variety of styles, personalities and have a variety of experiences. They learn resiliency and adaptability through these experiences.
  • Remember this is just a part of your child’s life. You are the most important teacher your child will have. From Abigail: The person they become will come from their involvement and education in your family, culture, and personal life. Schools add the academics and you provide everything else. In the spirit of it takes a village, surround your children with people that will enrich their lives and yours.
  • Recommendation: Encourage your child to be happy with their teacher, find and emphasize the good that is there. If you have concerns keep them to yourself, share them with your significant other, but do not speak of them in front of your child or share them when they can hear.
  • Recommendation: There are opportunities to be in the classroom, volunteer on field trips, make the most of them if you can. It is a great experience to be in the building and in the classroom even as simply as a Mystery Reader.
  • School websites can be mediocre but be persistent; the information is usually there.
  • Recommendation: Write things down that you see, read or hear. Example: you might only hear once that Picture Day has been scheduled. You will not receive the reminders you get from the Coop.

Other thoughts:

◦ Social emotional development is the most important skill a child should accomplish before Kindergarten. Academic skills will come, no worries.

◦ Talk about the transition from one classroom to another or one school to another in a balanced way without adding pressure or stress (either positive or negative) to the conversation.

◦ Emphasize the positives, de-emphaisze the negatives.

◦ Never talk about your worries when your child can hear.

◦ Make play dates with other children going to that classroom/school.

◦ Role play/rehearse social situations like introducing yourself to new friends and asking to sit or play with people.

◦ Parent involvement can be the key indicator of a child’s success – be involved in your child’s life and experiences in school.