Starting Kindergarten is a big step for a young child and for this reason we make a few changes to the normal program for the first few weeks for the 3yo and 4yo programs.
Both the National and Victorian Frameworks have a particular emphasis on the transitions in a child’s life; from home to kindergarten, to school and beyond. It points out that partnerships formed between families and early childhood setting all contribute to ensure a smooth transition for every child. Different environments have their own ways of approaching transitions. If all relevant parties in each area work together, to share knowledge and expectations, then the transition for everyone concerned will be smooth. With smooth transitions, we will ensure secure, confident, supported children ready to build on these experiences to explore and to grow. In order for this partnership with your family and this centre to work most effectively, we would like to give you some practical suggestions to prepare your child for Preschool and to convey to you our expectations.
Much of the preparation process is actually linked with our expectations. There is an assumption when your child starts kindergarten that they will have a certain amount of life skills, such as toileting as independently as possible, dressing themselves, actually walking into kinder, managing their kinder bag and snack items, helping to put things away, following simple instructions, beginning to express emotions, and actually being left for short periods of time.
You can begin now, by thinking about and implementing strategies to allow you and your child to be ‘kinder ready’. These include, having a concrete idea of the centre and staff, leaving your child for short periods and encouraging independence in everyday living skills.
Here are a few suggestions that may help to promote your child’s positive feelings toward Kindergarten.
- Talk about starting Kinder as a sign of your child getting bigger, a reward for growing up.
- Encourage evidence of independence so your child feels proud about doing things for themselves
- Provide appropriate opportunities for your child to speak to other adults so that confidence and self-expression are developed.
- Be positive and excited about this new stage in your child’s life because children sense these emotions and will develop these feelings also.
- Talk to your child about some simple scenarios so that they have some strategies ready – e.g. What do you do when you need to go to the toilet? Who could help you at Kinder?
You can encourage independence in dressing at home now, especially managing a jumper or jacket, and before and after toileting. Also allow your child to have their healthy snacks from the container they will bring to kinder. Practise putting snack items, jumpers etc. in and out of their kinder bag. Many parents do these simple tasks for their child, thinking they are not ready, or that it will be done more efficiently by an adult. Encouraging young children in toileting independently, helping to pack up their toys, and ensuring they can follow through on simple instructions makes for a smoother transition to the ‘big world’ of kinder.
Toileting is always a common area of concern with parents of young children entering kinder for the first time. Other than occasional accidents, we would like your child to be as independent as they are able. When we have a group of 22 children, it becomes very difficult to have one of our staff in the bathroom, leaving only one to supervise the rest of the group. It is also unreasonable to ask a parent on duty to deal with a child in need of changing.
Developmentally, a child who is not interested in toileting alone, can often not be ready emotionally or physically to spread their wings away from home just yet. Please speak to us if this is a concern for your child. Don’t forget, it is still quite some time until our 2015 start and with summer approaching, toilet training can often be fast tracked if and when a child is ready, during the warmer months.
Modeling positive behaviour
A huge part of preparing for and coping with the beginning of Preschool is anxiety, in the child and also in a parent. We would encourage you to think about this now, and implement the following strategies to help you both deal with anxiety.
Modeling positive behaviour, prior to and during the kinder year, enables your child to understand that you have confidence in us. We know this may be difficult, but never allow your child to see your anxiety. When you enter the kinder in the first weeks, it’s a good idea to settle your child at an activity, then say goodbye, and go! Never hesitate once you say goodbye, and always tell your child you are leaving. Most children settle soon after a parent has left. Please be assured, if your child does not settle, we will ring you.
Please understand that we have been in the profession for many years and have dealt with numerous anxious children and parents. Please trust us to help you and your child have the most positive and happy experience at kinder. Sometimes it can take a long time for a child to settle, so please follow our lead. We will offer strategies to help you overcome your child’s fear, and if we work confidently together, we will see the anxiety through.
Even when you implement the above strategies, separation anxiety can be one of the most concerning problems, both for the child and parent when you first step out beyond the comfort of home. You may think you have passed the critical first encounters with separation anxiety when your child finally allows you to leave. Unfortunately, anxiety can occur at any time, and can be caused by a number of issues, including a change in family circumstances, overtiredness, a new house, a new baby or a prolonged period of absence due to illness or a holiday. Keeping us informed of any changes throughout the year is important as we plan for effective participation in the program. A constant flow of information between home and kinder establishes an important bond, enabling us to work together to support your child’s sense of belonging and wellbeing.
So, as you prepare to embark on perhaps a new journey for you and your child, remember that smooth transitions, preparation and the development of relationships between all significant participants in the entire process can ensure a positive outcome for us all. So, take a deep breath, look at that young child of yours and then do the same this time next year. You will see a huge difference. We look forward to getting to know you and your child, and anticipate a year filled with joy, laughter and learning.