Preparing your child for kindergarten (or preschool)
It’s Elliott’s first year of Kindergarten this year (I’m not sure what the equivalent is for non-Queenslanders but he’s just turned 4). It was exciting and a little nerve-wracking because it was another big step in his development and schooling. On the plus side, it’s a chance for Elliott to gain more independence while learning and making new friends and it’s a chance for me as a parent to take a step back and encourage him to develop on his own. This bit will be hard for me, but I know I’ll have to do it.
I was relatively lucky that Elliott was clearly ready for kindergarten when the time came, but earlier last year it could have been a whole different story with his separation anxiety, it took a lot of work to build his confidence. For those parents with their child moving into kindergarten next year, it’s not too late to start preparing them so to get them off to a smooth start. I’ve put some tips together on things you can do to help.
Not long ago I thought that this was something I didn’t need to worry about until Elliott was older. But it has been noted that children as young as two years old are able to use smartphones and tablets efficiently. Scary, hey? I’ve always been amazed at how fast Elliott has been able to pick things up and use the iPad with ease. It’s a tad terrifying. The issue here is that our kids might be able to access websites that are not meant for children or rack up expensive bills when playing online games.
A great tip is to find out what views your potential kindergarten option has on technology and online safety. You may find that only the teacher can use the school’s laptop or tablet. Or you may find out that the children are encouraged to use new technologies to read and play educational games. This will put your mind at ease and help you prepare your child more sufficiently. It’s good to explain about stranger danger, what passwords are for and how your child should only go on sites that are approved by you or their teacher. The best approach is to do this in a friendly and positive way so they don’t feel like you are telling them off. Something I have to remember with a sensitive little soul like Elliott!
Going to the toilet independently is something that is required by most kindergartens, with a few exceptions. I was super lucky that when I decided to change daycare centres after Elliott’s separation anxiety issues, he had just been toilet trained and could go straight into their kindy room. Some kindergartens are willing to help the parents with the toilet training process, but this will depend on the policies and staff. If your child is still wearing nappies, this could prevent them from securing a place at your first choice kindergarten. While many children are eager to start potty training, others are in no rush to get started and this is quite normal. But if your child can stay dry for an hour and shows an interest in the bathroom, these are all signs that they are ready to get started.
If you’re concerned about time, and I’m sure there are many of you that can’t take three days off work to purely focus on your child’s toileting, use Potty Training Solved. This service guarantees a quick method that can have your child using a toilet in less than three days. If your child has not yet shown signs of wanting to start toilet training, never force them. But you can start encouraging them by reading toilet training books and talking positively about going to the bathroom. If they start kindergarten, and all the other children are able to go alone, you may find that they become more eager to learn, so they fit in. So let them lead the way and always find out about the kindergarten’s toilet training policies before enrolling.
Sharing with others
Sharing with others is a skill that develops independence and maturity. It’s most certainly a skill Elliott had to develop and although he’s great now, there was a time when sharing was an issue. I’ve found that having some concept of what sharing is all about makes it easier for kids to play and interact with others. All children know how to share, but consistency may be something they struggle with.
Before they go to kindergarten, show them how fun sharing can be and how good it can make them feel. You can do this by playing games together that require teamwork. If they have playmates or siblings, encourage taking it in turns with certain toys and ask them to split their snacks equally. Because Elliott is an only child, I let him help me in the kitchen more often and playgroup also helped him with sharing. You might experience a few tears and tantrums to begin with but stay focused and make it a positive experience. Make sure you are always leading by example and promote sharing every day. Sharing with others also means encouraging your child to talk to you or their teachers about their issues and concerns. Make sure when your child wants to talk that you give them your full attention. This will put them in good stead for solving problems and dealing with personal issues such as bullying or learning difficulties.
Once you have introduced and taught your child these things, they should be well equipped to start their journey into kindergarten. The last thing we want them to be is stressed, embarrassed and unnecessarily upset. I certainly found that the time I spent on building Elliott’s skills in these areas as well as what he learnt at day-care helped him with his transition into Kindergarten.