POPSUGAR Celebrity

8 Things to Do to Transition Your Preschooler to Kindergarten (and 1 Thing You Shouldn't)

May 28 2014 - 4:32am

Whether moving on from preschool is cause for celebration [1] in your home or just another day at school, there's no denying the magnitude of the transition into kindergarten. Though it's often the parents who express their fears more outwardly, you can be sure your little one has a few concerns of his own about the next step.

More than the actual academic changes, moving on is a normal phase in child development and a great opportunity for them to learn how to have more than one emotion at once. They're likely experiencing excitement, trepidation, and a host of other feelings all at the same time. And while this presents parents with the unique opportunity to teach them it's OK not to necessarily know what's coming next, there are some things we can do to set their minds (and of course, our minds) at ease. Read on for eight things you can easily do before the start of their kindergarten year — and one thing you should refrain from doing.

Source: Flickr user Gideon Tsang [2]

Do: Take a Tour of the School

Some schools offer scheduled tours and orientations for incoming students before the previous school year even ends, giving tots a great opportunity to see their new school in motion. Others require you to set up your own tour/classroom visit that may take place over the Summer. In either case, visiting your child's new school provides them with information that can counteract their anxieties such as: where the bathrooms are, how big the classroom is, and where mom/dad/caregiver will pick him up each day.

Do: Focus on What Remains the Same (and Discuss What Changes)

While moving up to kindergarten sounds like a big step, your child's new classroom is probably pretty similar to their preschool one. There's likely to be a blocks corner, a library or reading area, an art area, some outdoor play, and maybe even a rug for classroom meetings.

At the same time, your little one needs to know that there will be some differences — like more children in the classroom, new games, and more — so she doesn't walk in expecting to see her nursery-school room.

Do: Show Them How Much They've Grown

Parents love to tell their children how much they've grown, but kids can't really see if for themselves. If you have a growth chart at home, show them how much taller they are than they were on the first day or school. Or pull out a pair of pants from the start of the school year and have them try them on. They'll get a good laugh out of seeing just how much they've grown over the past nine months, which will help them understand that part of growing up is moving on to the next grade.

Do: Schedule Playdates With Preschool Friends

Show your little one that her friendships will endure by scheduling some playdates with her friends and marking them on the calendar for all to see. Better yet, sign her up for an after-school activity with a preschool friend to ensure they'll see each other on a regular basis.

Do: Read Books About Kindergarten

If your tot is already talking about kindergarten, it's a good time to whip out some books on the subject [3]. Written by experts, the books can help ease anxiety and give them something to look forward to. But, if your tot isn't talking about it yet, you might want to hold off on the books until you get closer to the start of the school year.

Do: Write a Letter to a Kindergartener

This one is taken right from my son's preschool. Chances are there's a current kindergartener at your child's new school who graduated from your preschool. And there's a good chance that he is more than willing to tell you all about his wonderful year. Sit down with your child and write a letter to the alum asking any questions your tot may have. Simply writing the letter may open up communication channels.

Do: Show Your Child That All Friendships Don't Depend on School

You probably have friends from a lot of different places, and your child does too, even if she doesn't realize it. She may see her school friends every day, but she also has neighborhood friends that attend different preschools, family friends that she's inherited from you, and friends she's made from various places in her (almost) five years. Explain to her that going to kindergarten is going to add more friends to this group.

Do: Start Serving What's on the Lunch Menu

One of the biggest fears tots have about starting a full-day kindergarten program is what they'll eat for lunch. If it's a school that provides lunch or if you plan on having your child purchase lunch, get a hold of the current year's lunch calendar and start serving up some of the dishes. It will make mealtime that much more familiar come next year. If you plan on packing a lunch for school, practice that as well. You child may not be used to taking her lunch out of a bag and eating it!

Don't: Have a Leaving-School Talk If They Don't Bring It Up

Just because you're anxious about the next year doesn't mean your child is, so you'll want to refrain from starting the conversation and projecting your fears onto your child!

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