10 Tips for helping your child settle in to Kindergarten

It’s that time of year again – Our children are off to school!
I can already hear some parents cheering, some crying and others cursing that they have to start setting alarms again!

But for those with children starting Kindergarten for the first time it can be stressful and confusing for both you and your child!

So here are some tips for how to help yourself and your child in the first few weeks of school:

  1. Set a routine for the morning – Every family is different but a routine that works for you is necessary to get to school on time. Television/Ipads etc are more of a hindrance than a help for getting to school on time.
  2. Talk to your child about what they need to take to school – Each day see what they can remember so they can start to pack their own bag – things like drink bottle, lunch, crunch and sip (if your school participates in this), recess and a hat are all things your child can remember easily. Other things like library bags and sports clothes, jumpers etc. that aren’t needed every day can be worked on once they have their everyday things sorted.
  3. Let your child dress themselves – Help them learn how to do up their school shoes (buckles, shoelaces etc.) Help them learn how to do the zips up on their pockets, the buttons on their shirts, anything that their clothes have so they feel in control of their own body.
  4. Talk about your child’s teacher – Your child will become very close with their Kindergarten teacher (Kindy Teachers are a special breed of people who are so loving and nurturing but fun and exciting and who can teach your young children to do amazing things) so talk about their teacher to help them feel comfortable quickly. Things like “Mrs Smith said that you might get to go to the big assembly hall and do some singing today, that will be exciting! I wonder what songs Mrs Smith will sing with you”
  5. Go in to the school with your child – This will help them feel comforted and supported but make sure you give them space to let them play with their friends.
  6. When your child is safely with their teacher (or before this if you and your child are comfortable), leave the school grounds – I know this is hard to do (especially if they are crying) but have trust in your child’s teacher. Teachers are very talented at the art of distraction, your child will calm down and join in to the class once you leave.
  7. When you pick your child up from school – Be there just before the bell rings so your child isn’t worried that you have forgotten them and/or they can’t see you waiting outside the classroom window for the last hour of school sticky beaking on them.
  8. Be excited and engaged – Listen to what they have to say, bend down to talk to them so you are on their level and they can feel empowered and a sense of achievement. Being independent at school is a huge achievement for them and listening to them face to face helps them feel this.   Ask to your child about what happened in their day – some children might need prompts like “Who did you sit next to?” “What did you play at recess?” “What songs did you learn?” etc.
  9. If your child is tired when they get home from school (this is likely for the first few weeks – Kindergarten is exhausting!) try to keep them up long enough to go to bed early – 7pm is a good bed time for children in Kindergarten so a quick nap on the lounge is ok when they get home but make sure they don’t sleep too long to stop them eating dinner or going to bed early ready for another action packed day at school!
  10. If you are not at school to pick up your child that is ok (not many of us can) but you can still make your child feel excited and happy by calling them soon after they get home from school (if a family member has picked them up) to talk about their day or when you get home engage your child in a “knee to knee just you and me – close the door for four” chat (see previous blog)! This is where you sit knee to knee just you and your child and you talk back and forth for at least 4 minutes. We know life is busy and talking is often done while we cook dinner or in the car but if you can spare 4 minutes of your day every day and talk to your child face to face about whatever they want, you will find they can open up to you more and you will both take in a lot more out of the conversation.