How to Thrive in the First Month of Kindergarten

How to Thrive in the First Month of Kindergarten

The transition to kindergarten can be an exciting and challenging time for children and parents. Children are being introduced to new rules, routines, schedules, new people, and many new experiences. All of these new things can be exhausting! Although this transition can be tiring, it will also be a time full of learning and fun for your child. Here are some tips that can help make a smooth first month of Kindergarten:

Create consistent before and after school routines.

Keeping a consistent routine for before school can help mornings run smoothly, so you can get out the door feeling ready for the day. Make a list of the things your child and you need to do in the morning. One way to help your child follow this routine is to create a visual list of the tasks they need to do. Pre-teach this routine with your child the night before so they know what to expect.  Creating a morning routine and giving your child a tool, like a list, to manage themselves can help build their independence and self-confidence.

 In the first month of school, it can feel a little overwhelming trying to keep track of all of the papers, homework, backpacks, and other school supplies. Having designated spaces for your child to put these things as soon as they get home can be helpful in keeping things from getting lost in the shuffle. Pre-teach where  these spaces are and what you expect your child to do when they come home. For example, “When you come inside, put your backpack by the door and folder on the table.” Getting into the routine of checking your child’s backpack right away can also be helpful in staying on top of papers or work that gets sent home.

 Create a break space.

After a full day of kindergarten, children have taken in a lot of new information and are tired! You may notice that your kindergartener is more moody than usual.  Creating a space where your child knows they can go to calm down can give them a tool to manage their feelings. The break space could include comfortable seating like a beanbag chair, blankets, and pillows. The space could also include sensory objects such as sand timers, playdough, squishies, etc.  This could be a place your child goes to take a few minutes to calm down after school. It can also be a place they choose to go when they feel really wound up.

 Stay connected with your child’s school.

Maintaining a strong connection with the school can help ease the transition to kindergarten. Research shows that strong parent connections to school can improve academics, increase the desire for learning, and encourage positive attitudes about school. Schools also benefit from strong parent connections because parents can give teachers ideas on how to best support their children.  Checking in with teachers through email, reading newsletters, and attending school events, and volunteering when you can are great ways to stay connected and create a bond with your child’s school.

 Plan self-care.

This is a big transition, so don’t forget to take care of yourself!  Easier said than done ,though, right? When our lives get busy, it is important to be effortful about self-care. To ensure we take care of ourselves, we have to hold self-care as a priority. It cannot just be something we will do if we have time. An effective way to prioritize self-care is to plan it out. Think “what is something small I can do for myself today?” When planning larger self-care activities think “what is something I can do for myself this week?”.

Self-care can also be practiced as a whole family to relieve stress. Practicing self-care as a family could be having meal times together, playing  games together,  taking a walk, going to the park, or even just taking some time to play together.

Encourage free play time.

The transition to school is a busy time for your kindergartner! The school day has a lot of structure that many kids are just learning to adjust to.  Giving your child free play opportunities at home can help them relieve stress, learn, and build relationships. Give your child some unstructured time to just use their imaginations. This could be with art, blocks, legos, playdough, outdoor games etc. Play with them! But let them direct the nature of the play (within reason of course!).

Stay positive and encourage a growth mindset.

Kids will face many new challenges in kindergarten. We can help them grow from these challenges through encouraging a growth mindset. A growth mindset is the perspective that challenges are learning opportunities and effort matters more than results. Your kindergartener will be learning some challenging things and you may hear things like “I can’t do it”.  Validate their feelings of frustration, praise their efforts, and encourage them to keep trying. Have them say “I can’t do it yet” instead of “I can’t do it”, and model this mindset with your language. Talk about things that are hard to do as learning opportunities and normalize challenges that you have.  Praise them for their hard work and trying their best regardless of the results.

The transition to kindergarten is an adventure! Your child is learning so much and is in a key stage of their development. Stay positive and have fun!

Nollie has worn multiple hats while working with the KITS Program. When she was a student at UO she was an assessor on the KITS research projects, a teacher in our school readiness groups, and a childcare assistant. Since then, she has taught KITS groups for 4J and coached other educators to implement the KITS Program.

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