As the end of preschool approaches, parents often finalize decisions about kindergarten placement for their children and complete registration procedures. However, parents may not realize the anxiety that many children feel about leaving preschool and attending a new school. Parents may misinterpret sudden temper outbursts or feel perplexed when their usually confident child suddenly turns weepy for no apparent reason. Here are some ideas to help children successfully transition from preschool to kindergarten.
- Allow your child to have closure before leaving preschool. Try to visit your child's class before the end of school. Take some photographs, if possible. Your child may want to write or dictate his favorite things about preschool.
- Talk to your child about kindergarten. Answer as honestly as possible questions your child may have.
- Acknowledge the differences between preschool and kindergarten, but also stress the similarities. For example, many kindergartens have more structured time than preschool, but teachers continue to share books, songs, and games.
- Take your child to visit her new school. Many kindergartens have a planned visit or orientation for incoming children. If not, you can still walk around the school grounds with your child, visit the office, and perhaps see the lunchroom and a classroom.
- If possible, let your child meet his new teacher ahead of time. Teachers are often in the school building several days before the start of school arranging their classrooms. A quick greeting and introduction may be possible.
- If your child will be riding a school bus, talk about it ahead of time. Perhaps a ride on a city bus could be planned before the start of school.
- Begin changing your child's schedule a week or so before the start of school. Children often have a more relaxed bedtime schedule during the summer. Starting gradually with an earlier bedtime eases the change back to school hours.
- If your child will be attending full day kindergarten, consider packing her lunch for the first few days. Children often find the lunchroom particularly noisy and confusing during the first days of school. Having to wait through the lunch line is just one more new procedure to have to deal with.
- Let your child know that there may be brief periods of the day when the teacher will not be there, and someone else will be supervising. In full day kindergartens, the teacher often takes a lunch break during the children's lunch. Some children become frightened when they are deposited in the lunchroom and the teacher disappears.