Preparing your child for kindergarten
Written on the 8 June 2016
In a recent episode of "Call the Midwife", the final words were something like this:
"We are shaped by the hands we cherish and hold in ours and then gently let go."
This statement made me think of children starting Kindergarten. During my years as a kindergarten and early childhood teacher I witnessed and participated in many "letting goes" that were not so gentle for the child or the parent. There are many different reasons for this starting school trauma but there is no escaping the fact that children must go to school. In all states of Australia, children are required to be enrolled in school when they are 5.
How can we prepare our children to leave us happily and to make this big step into another world gentler for the child and the parents? Firstly, childcare and school are very different. Many children have had experience of childcare in some form and have settled in happily. Surely these children will have a smooth transition to school. NO, NOT ALWAYS! The carer /child ratio is greater at childcare than at school or kindergarten. At childcare there is always someone who knows the child well to give them attention, to help with personal tasks and just to be there. At Kindergarten there could be 20 plus children in a class and 2 adults. This is a different environment, with very different expectations, and parents need to prepare their child to be more self reliant.
We all know about the usual preparations, such as visiting the school and meeting the teacher, talking about the rules and routine and being able to listen and follow instructions. These skills are very important in preparing your child for school but I am writing about some much more basic skills which some might think are so obvious that they don't even need mentioning. However, during my time as a Kindergarten teacher I found that surprisingly, not all children have these skills, but those who do have a more confident start at school.
So if your child can take care of their belongings, clothing and toileting confidently, they are free to play and learn and to build relationships with other children and that's what Kindergarten is all about.