When preparing our little ones for Kindergarten, we put a lot of emphasis on reading and writing. We don't always think to prepare them socially. Here are some great ways to get our kids socially ready for their first day of school.
Making Friends: Introductions are the first step to lifelong friendships. Take your kids to the park and teach them how to introduce themselves to kids their age and how to ask if they want to play.
Using Manners: This seems like a common sense thing to teach children but how often do we forget to use our manners as adults. We need to teach from example here. Let them hear you use the words Please and Thank You and they won't even have to think twice about using it as it becomes second nature then.
Asking for Help: Kids need to know it's ok to ask their teachers for help or to raise their hand when they have a question. Teachers are there to help them learn and they will use these opportuities to help teach them how to do whatever it is they need help with.
Sharing is Caring: We've all heard the phrase but do our kids really know how to share? Classroom toys belong to the school and are to be shared amongst the class. Let your kids know they need to share with others but also teach them how to share. Sharing does not mean they have to lose a turn at playing. If they have just started playing with a toy and another child asks for it, it is ok to say let's play together or I just started playing with it, I promise you will be next. Many children get upset as they feel that sharing means they can no longer play with a toy. I believe that taking turns is the same thing as sharing and children need to be able to do that.
Use Your Words: There is going to come a time where kids in a class aren't going to get along (usually caused by a sharing issue). It is ok for our kids to disagree with each other but we really need to teach them that hitting another child is never ok. Bullying is also not ok. We need to teach our children that if they are being bullied or see someone is, they should go and tell someone right away.
Dressing Themselves: When our kids go to school for the first time, they are officially entering Big Boy/Girl status. We need to treat them as such and help them with some basic life skills which include dressing themselves. They should know how to zip up their jackets, put shoes on the right foot and doing up buttons. (Remember Kindergarten classes often have 20 - 30 kids and only 2 teachers. It isn't easy for them to have to zip all those jackets when it's time to go out and play). Buttons aren't always easy, so if they haven't mastered them, maybe stick to track pants or leggings for awhile. This could help in avoiding potential accidents. Should an accident occur make sure you have an extra set of clothes in their bag or cubby at school.
Using the Bathroom: Most kids are potty trained by the time they get to kindergarten but we all know they will forget to go when they are having fun or not make it in time. Remind them the importance of going to the bathroom right away or letting a teacher know if they have to go. Also teach them the proper way to wipe and to wash hands after going. Let them know the importance of using soap and water to wash off germs.
Using tissues: Colder weather and being around all those kids means a lot more snotty noses to clean. Teach your kids how to wipe their own noses when they are runny and how to blow their nose. It's also a good opprtunity to teach your kids how to cough and sneeze into their arm as to not spread germs to the rest of the class. If they do cough into their hands remind them that soap and water will help get rid of those nasty bugs.
Lunch boxes: Practice snack and lunch time using their new lunch box. This will help them learn how to open the snacks they will be bringing to school. Teach them how to open the containers they will be bringing. Also have them open their own snacks. Bear paw packages, yougurt cups or tubes, etc. Teachers will often ask you to label all their items. This includes their linch items. Lable the containers 1, 2, 3 so they know what order they are to eat them. For example: Yogurt is 1 for first snack. Sandwich is 2 for lunch. Goldfish crackers is 3 for last snack. This will help make sure they eat the "healthy" snack before the treat snack.
Tidy Up Time: One of the rules taht kids will have to follow in school is tidying up after themselves. When it is time to switch activities, kids will be expected to tidy up te area they were playing in. Teach kids at home to learn how to put away their toys after play time. This will be a great life lesson for school and to make life a little less busy for mom
Stranger Danger: As much as we don't want to think about it, not all people are good. You don't need to scare your kids but it is important to teach kids about stranger danger. Give your kid a secret code word that will be used if someone tries to pick them up that they don't know. Remind them to find an adult they know and trust if someone makes them uncomfortable or approaches them to try and lead them away from the school.
Prepare them to not having you or another family member with them at all times. If your kids are home with you and not in daycare, it might be a good idea to sign them for a preschool for a few months or apply for the Even Start program which helps prepare kids for their first year of school You can also have a trusted adult take them for a few hours for a play date so they are used to playing with other kids and following the rules of another adult.
Hopefully these examples will get you started to preparing your child for kindergarten and help you feel a little better about sending them off to the next chapter in their life.
Written by famiizuu member and mom of 2, Angela Hickman