Getting ready for the first day of kindy
It’s official, the holiday season is over, and attention is now turning to the year ahead, for many families that means preparing their child for their first day at kindy or childcare.
Kindergarten is an exciting time in a child’s life. However, it’s also a time when parents can feel a little bit of sadness, as it can feel like your baby has grown up.
Robyn Mercer, an experienced early education expert from C&K, explains there are many things families can do to help make the first day and weeks of kindergarten as enjoyable and stress-free as possible, for children and for parents.
“Kindergarten is a magical time in a child’s life, it will be a year where they explore, create, learn and grow, but starting when everything is new and unfamiliar can be a big step,”.
Preparing for their first day
Preparing your child for their first day is not about getting them to do anything, it’s about talking to them Robyn explains.
“Children are curious and like to know what is going on. Tell them about what kindy will be like, how they will meet their new teacher and eat lunch with new friends, how they will get to do lots of playing, exploring with loads of fun experiences. This helps create a sense of belonging and predictability which takes away some of the anxiety.
“For those children who have been in care before, transitioning into the kindergarten room is exciting but can still create a few nerves. They will be in a different setting and meeting their new teacher and new friends.
“Talk positively about what they should expect, focus on all the exciting, fun activities they will do,”.
On their first day
On their first morning, Robyn says allowing enough time to get ready and arrive at kindy helps keep everyone calm.
“Involve your child in the process of getting ready. Pack their lunchbox and bag together, so they know of what all their belongings look like.”
“Aim to arrive at kindy a little early, so you can introduce them to their teacher and take time to walk around the garden and room together. Also, don’t forget to bring your camera! Capturing them on their first day of kindy is something you will want to remember forever.”
When it is time for parents to leave, Robyn has an important piece of advice.
“When it’s time to leave, let the teacher know you are going, say goodbye to your child and remind them that you will be back. Even if your child is upset, we understand it can be upsetting for parents to see their child sad, however, saying goodbye is essential. By physically saying goodbye your child is aware you have left and won’t go looking for you later on, as this can cause even more distress. Saying you will be back gives them reassurance they will see you soon.
“Just because they may be sad when you leave, doesn’t mean they will have a sad day. It’s more likely they off running and playing and having loads of fun, which they will tell you all about when you come to get them.
Beyond the first day
As the term gets underway, even if a child has been happily going to kindy every day and separating from you , some children’s behavior may change a after a few weeks.
“By week three or four, going to kindy is no longer a ‘novelty’, the excitement may fade, and some children will go through the ‘missing mum’ phase,” Robyn explains.
“Don’t panic, this can happen and is normal. Continuing talking to your child positively about kindy, help them focus on the elements they enjoy, establish a morning goodbye ritual and always emphasise you will come back to get them and that you love hearing about what they do during the day.
“Remember, your child’s educator is always available to help. Keep them involved in any emotions or concerns your child may be experiencing. So they can continue to work with you to make your child’s learning journey is the best it can be.
Tips on preparing for their first day
- Be positive about it. If they see you are happy and looking forward to it, they will reflect that.
- Pack their bag with them. Make sure they are familiar with their belongings, what does their water bottle/hat/lunch box look like, can they see their name written on it?
- Take time arriving; the first day can overwhelm some. Walk around the room and the garden together, to help settle them in. It can also help you to be familiar with their surroundings so you can ask them about it at the end of the day.
- Introduce yourself to their teacher, starting kindy is also about joining a community and the more you get to know their teacher, and what they are doing each day the more you will gain all from experience.
- Don’t panic if the first day is not smooth sailing. Some children will take to kindergarten as if they have done it a thousand times before, others may need a bit more time to adjust, and that is ok!
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If your child is wondering about their kindy experience, this is a great book to prepare them for their next step.