Kindergarten is where a child often experiences his or her first gathering with rules enforced and character is slowly built and monitored. This is where a child learns to interact with others, use and develop their social skills and some natural talents surface. A child will also learn to share and consider others during practical educational activities; singing and playing together, including the basics of teamwork. Overall, it is a place that can be fun for a child while they learn. This is where the basics of real world encounters begin. It is the first little step into the social world full of activities, imaginations and dreams. A special and important time for every child and therefore compulsory in many areas.
Kindergarten can be very frightening as a child learns to mix with others, all strangers, for the first time without any members of their family present. They may feel they are all alone and have been abandoned by family. Therefore, it is crucial that every parent or guardian takes time to prepare their child for kindergarten. There is quite a lot to prepare and the sooner this is done well in advance the better the child will easily adapt on the first day. Advance could be anything from three weeks to a month, all depending on an individual child, as some children are slow learners and some are fast learners, while others may have learning problems.
Children are all different in so many ways and carry emotions based on their background and how they are raised. The emotions, behaviours and actions differ from child to child. Some children may carry all or a few of these, just to mention a few: talkativeness, quietness, sadness, some are full of anger, some like fighting, especially boys, some are full of respect and some lack it, some are selfish and some are not, some are soft spoken and some are not, some are cruel and some are kind, some like sharing and some don’t, and some love socialising and interacting while some are not.
Preparing your child for kindergarten will help them to accept different kinds of children and their different behaviours, to be independent in making good choices, to understand that people are not the same, and that mum and dad or other family members will not always be around to stand up for them and make decisions for them. Preparation will also enable a child to know that their time in school will always be rationed between activities and learning. It will prepare them to mix well with others without fear.
Preparing a child for kindergarten should not be a fearful experience for any child. As you prepare your child, there are do’s and don’ts to consider. Keep in mind that children often come to fear strange things because we put fear into them. On their own, they are still fearless in their little minds. Parents may fear that their child will be bullied, harassed, intimidated, peer pressured or tormented by other children – especially if they went through such experiences themselves – and therefore they become the ones in fear and in turn may try to teach their children how to handle such a situation before it even emerges, for self protection. We want to encourage our children and we want them to have fun, to be full of confidence and be independent on their first experience at their first school ever. They should be looking forward to kindergarten by the time the date approaches. To help them do that, here are the most important do’s and don’ts to consider.
Do not paint scary fearful pictures of teachers or other children for your child. Teachers are there to act in your place by taking care of your child with professional love as they are educating them.
Do not teach your child to be aggressive toward other. Teaching them to fight will encourage them to find no other peaceful options of solving matters.
Do not bring your own past experiences of kindergarten into it. This is about your child, all is going to be different for them, and it is their generation that is completely different from your time. Give your child some freedom of its own start at prep school.
Do not tell your child how to react when they enter the school gates because you have no idea how others will be reacting. Children are clever, and they will figure it out on their own.
Do not tell them what kind of friends they should make. Do not tell your child that there will be bullies and bad people. Their minds are still pure and very clean. This will only bring fear of other children in them and some sense of wanting to defend themselves, and maybe the very wrong way since they are not aware of many rights and wrongs yet.
Do not tell your child that they are going to work just as you do. Tell them the truth: It is prep school and children go there to learn, play, and do many activities together with other children of their age.
Preparing your child for Kindergarten can be exciting for you as well. All parents or guardians want the best for their children. The aim is to bring confidence into the child without enforcing it or filling their little brains with too much information. On your normal routine at home or when you are taking a walk, simply bring up some hints a few at a time throughout the day. Do not let these little sessions be long until they become boring. Children have a time when they are listening and a time when they just switch off if a message gets too long.
Try to relate familiar situations to kindergarten. For example, if your child is refusing to share toys, tell them that they will soon be going to kindergarten where sharing and exchanging is important so that they also will get to play with some new toys that belong to someone else. Find a way to make the preparation hints extensions to normal situation solving.
Do tell your child that there will be many other children at kindergarten so they are aware that they will not be all alone and deserted. Tell them that they will make new friends, play new games and other activities while learning. Assure them that they will also learn interesting and exciting things.
Do tell your child again and again that you will be dropping them at school and then leaving, and that they will be with other children and teachers. Most children cry so bitterly at the gate that it is so heartbreaking for the parent themselves and those standing by. This normally happens if the child was not aware that they would be left there without mum or dad.
Do tell your child to respect teachers and listen to them.
Do tell your child to be responsible for their belongings and ensure they have them all when they come back home.
Do tell your child to be good to other kids. Children are not racist, adults feed it into them, and they do not have skin colour in mind.
Do teach your child about starting times and finishing times so that they will know that you have not forgotten about them, as most children will think time has flown and they are not going to be picked up. This thought will happen even if the child sees no other child being picked up yet. It is all because it is their first time away from everyone they know and are surrounded by new faces.
Do tell your child about allocated time to go to the bathroom. Kids often want to go to the bathroom even when the need is not there, some even enjoy playing with water. If you teach your child about this one at home, it will be easier for them at school.
Do tell your child about allocated times to eat, so that they do not try to eat when all the other kids are not yet eating, or cry for a drink or snack. This is so that when the teacher imposes it, they do not feel that they are being denied food when they are hungry.
Do tell your child not to steal or take anything that do not belong to them without permission, be it food, toys or money. These we teach at home and it would be a good idea to remind a child to do the same at prep school.
Lastly, do tell your child all the above again and again so that it sinks in and become a normality to them.
Preparing your child is not teaching them lessons before they get started at the kindergarten, this is to avoid confusion. All you can teach them is about the kindergarten environment and what happens there. Every other thing that has to be learnt – class lessons and activities – your child will learn a little at a time with the help of caring new teachers.