Over the past few weeks several parents have stopped me in the hallways and asked me how they could determine whether their child was ready for kindergarten and what they can do to make sure that once they get there in the fall that they are successful. Making this transition from preschool to kindergarten can be difficult for both the child and the parents. I remember when my oldest went off to kindergarten and the line of cars that followed the bus to the school to watch the children get off the bus and enter for the first time; the tears in our eyes as we realized that our children had left the nest and were beginning to take flight.
As emotionally charged as this all seems, the biggest question was: are they going to be successful? The answer to that question is yes!! The love and support that we show our children through our actions and words are what is going to get them through those first few days and then move toward a greater love of learning. That is as long as we stay involved in our children’s school. Both the National PTA (2014) and the Center for Public Education (2011) state that when parents are involved with their children both at home and at school that the children are more likely to be successful.
So what can we do at home to make sure that we are guiding our children toward their full potential? As a parent and an educator, I have found it helpful to know what my child is learning every step of the way. It is through this knowledge that we can plan for experiences that will guide them toward further understanding and hone the skills that their teachers are building. For example, as my children were learning their alphabet and phonetics I would point out letters in their favorite foods, games, etc., and have them tell me about the letter (what it is, what it sounds like, what other words may contain that letter, etc.).
One of the biggest things that you can do for your child right now is to talk to them about the upcoming changes and prepare them for their first day of school. If the school is nearby take a walk or a bike ride to the school and spend time playing on the playground with your child. Through the process of building memories with your child at the school you will ease the transition period. On the first day of school remind your child of all the fun that you have had with them at the school and then when they are finished with the first day ask what kinds of memories that they have built. Making this connection between home and school will build their confidence and make the transitions easier.
Remember that although the first day of school can be scary and stressful that how we present ourselves and our positive attitude about our children’s education will help ease the way into this new period of their lives.
Center for Public Education. (2011, August 30). Back to school: How parent involvement affects student achievement (full report) – See more at: http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Public-education/Parent-Involvement/Parent-Involvement.html#sthash.rTlOVZAi.dpuf. Retrieved July 24, 2014, from Center for Public Education: http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Public-education/Parent-Involvement/Parent-Involvement.html
National PTA. (n.d.). Report: The Positive Relationship Between Family Involvement and Student Success. Retrieved July 24, 2014, from National PTA: http://www.pta.org/programs/content.cfm?ItemNumber=1459