Children will be moving onto school or to the next kinder group soon, and preparing them for the next big step in their lives well in advance is extremely beneficial. Preparation isn’t just about making sure your child is ready to learn how to read and count.
Empowering children with confidence is the key to a successful transition.
There is bountiful research into how to make this transition smooth for children, and there is a consistent finding that it’s not so much about knowing academics such as knowing letters or how to count to ten. The vital thing is feeling confident in the relationships that you have with your family and friends, and having well-developed social skills.
You may be fortunate enough to be able to spend time within your chosen school, by visiting different areas, run on the oval and walk around and begin to explore areas such as the library and the playground. During these visits children learn where the boundaries are and where the toilets are. All of these things help pave the way for children to make the social adjustment into school or the next kinder step. It has been well documented that if a child has real difficulties adjusting to the social environment they’re going to struggle. Here are some tips for successful transition:
- Build relationships between parents and teachers, children and teachers, and between the children as well. Transition to school sessions coming up enable these relationships to happen.
- Practice being able to operate with others. This is something that we are continually practising at kinder, but something you can also do at home. Practice with siblings or plan a playdate to build up awareness that you can’t always have the first go, and you may have to wait to get attention, because when you are one out of a large group you need to be independent and able to follow directions. Here is a fun way to remind children how to ‘miss out’ well, remember how to deal with big emotions, feel validated that sometimes we DO feel upset, but we can still respond well and build resilience…
- You get what you get
- And you might get upsetIf you don’t get your fave
You can practice being brave
Breathe in and breathe out
You don’t need to shout
If you don’t get your way
You can still be okay.
- Build independence. Give children responsibilities around the home such as setting the table, packing their own bags, feeding the family pet, etc. Children are also learning to follow instructions and practising doing something structured, at a time that may not suit them. At school and at kindergarten children will need to comply with the routine and tasks, and do them within a given time, not always in their own time, although there is a difference between Kinder and school.
- Talk positively about the next step, but don’t overdo it. I know some children who were disappointed on their first day at school because they didn’t learn to read!
- Build confidence. If a child knows how to put their own clothes on, put on shoes, open their lunchboxes and look after their own belongings then they’ll be more confident. Talk these things through often and the night before they attend. Teach your child how to be organised, what needs to go in the bag, where to put your jumper, etc.These things are a part of social adjustment, and while we are always practising these things at kinder, it helps if they are practised at home as well. It’s often the fear of the unknown that can cause anxiety, so set your child up with knowledge about what’s going to happen. Talk about where the classroom is, where the toilets are, where you can play. Validate children’s feelings, it is normal to feel a little bit of anxiety about something new.
With confidence comes a willingness to learn. If children believe they are smart and can learn things then they’ll reach out to new knowledge and be prepared to take risks in their learning, because learning is a risk! It’s reaching out into the unknown.
One more recommendation, no matter how old your child is; read, read, read together. Read stories, tell stories, and look up information about areas of interest. Reading and hearing stories and having conversations with adults are the best language building experiences, and language; speaking and listening, underpins everything a child needs to do at school.