For many children, Kindergarten is a huge change. They're just experiencing a structured school setting for the first time. While entering Kindergarten can be an exciting time, it can also be an anxious one too, especially for parents who have kids with disabilities. If your child struggles with things like following directions, sitting still, or sensory processing, it can add to the stress.
Below are ways you can help your child transition into Kindergarten smoothly.
1. Don't Wait
Start planning the transition during the last year of preschool. This is where you'll want to stay in touch with the preschool teacher. Find out if your child has been through an early literacy skills screening like language and speech skills. If they have, learn the results and see if your child may require extra help while they're still in preschool. Obtaining help early can help with the transition into Kindergarten.
2. Talk With Your Child
Talk with your child about the transition in a positive manner and don't show them your own anxiety about this change, as you no doubt will experience. Let them know (if you remember) how you felt going into Kindergarten and how it turned out just fine.
3. Work on Skills
During the summertime, practice different activities your child will likely perform in class. This can include:
- Forming letters
- Cutting out shapes
Also, work with your child on listening and following directions.
4. Visit the School
Pay a visit to your child's new school (bring them along) before school begins. Make an appointment to sit down with your child's teacher and/or principal. Learn the ways they help individual children make smoother transitions into Kindergarten. They may offer morning drop-in visits so you can help your child feel more comfortable or Kindergarten camps to provide your child with a sense of how their first day in Kindergarten will be like.
5. Attend Orientation
Most schools have an orientation day when you go to the school for a welcome session to meet the teachers, principals and learn other things about the school. Make sure you attend this session and bring your child along.
6. Prepare for the First Day
Prepare your child for what to expect on their first day. Let them know how they'll be getting to the school (bus or you drive them) and if you'll be walking them to their classroom.
If your child is seeing a pediatric occupational therapist, involve them in making your child's first day of Kindergarten a smooth transition. They can help ease your child's anxiety and maybe even give you some tips on how to ease yours. Also, trust that your child's Kindergarten teacher is a professional that knows how to make your child comfortable and feel welcome.