The first day at kindergarten is a big milestone for children and parents alike. It’s natural to have concerns about such a big change. Will your child adjust and settle in or will they be a troublemaker? Will they make friends? What will those first few days be like?
Knowing what to expect will help you to ease the transition from home to kindergarten and ultimately make the experience easier for you and more enjoyable for your child.
Our quick guide below will help prepare you for what’s to come, give you an idea what to expect and offer some suggestions for how to make the transition as easy as possible.
Hunger and Exhaustion are Common
For most parents, the first big change they will notice is that the kids are hungrier and more tired at the end of the day. And this makes sense.
At home, children tend to eat when they feel hungry, snacking often throughout the day. At kindergarten, there are designated snack and meal times. For a lot of children, this will be their first experience with rigidly set food times and their stomachs may have to learn to get used to longer breaks between meals.
Children will often come home from kindergarten exhausted. There are several common reasons for this.
Kindergarten will likely be a child’s first structured learning environment. The increased mental stimulation and brain activity that comes with this education can be exhausting. Read 10 tips for choosing the perfect childcare.
Further, many programs do not designate a time for napping. It’s assumed children will have grown out of a midday sleep at this age. If your child still naps, this absence of sleep time can make them even more tired when they get home.
To help your child cope with increased hunger and exhaustion in those first few weeks, there are some easy solutions. Have snacks in the car when you pick them up or have dinner ready when you get home. Ensure your child has a filling breakfast before kindergarten too. Try for an earlier bedtime and quiet activities in the evening, like reading a story together.
Check with your child’s teacher if you’re concerned that your child is over-tired or frequently hungry.
Learning Shouldn’t Stay in the Classroom
While early learning programs tend to differ by region depending on government requirements, most kindergarten programs will introduce your child to the basics of numeracy and literacy. This will likely include starting to writing a few letters and even their name, sounding out words, and the basics of measurements, shapes and time. But learning shouldn’t stop once your child leaves kindergarten for the day.
Engage with your child on what they are learning. You can read books aloud with them and talk about the story. You can even write a story together. Talk about numbers and measurements in everyday life. It can be as simple as asking your child to get two oranges and one apple to make a fruit salad, or talking about whether something is big and heavy or small and light. Reinforcing the skills learned at kindergarten can help your child master them more quickly.
A Few Tears and Plenty of Excitement
During the early stages of kindergarten, your child’s behaviour may be difficult to predict. They might be excited about going in the weeks leading up and then suddenly refuse to get out of the car. Alternatively, they may beg and plead not to go, but then race through the gate without a goodbye. And even after their first day, your child’s behaviour can change dramatically. Some children adapt quickly to and thrive in the new environment, while others may grow bored and not want to go back.
In these situations, your child’s teacher is the best person to ask for advice. They will have seen it all before and can provide you with some helpful tips. Simple things like praising any success your child has at school or organising play dates with children in the class to encourage friendships can help.
Be positive when talking about kindergarten so your child knows that it’s something to look forward to and enjoy. Your child will get the most out of it if you keep them engaged with it. For more tips on kindergarten and kids, check out raisingchildren.net.au.