Every summer we host a workshop for incoming Kinder and TK parents to help families prepare for the beginning of school in August. This year, this work is more important than ever as we have all spent so much time at home and away from public spaces.
We have found that most students come to school well prepared academically. However the biggest struggle that students face with their transition to school is emotional. If a students is emotionally distraught, they do not have the space to learn. At the bottom of this post we are sharing a booklet with resources and worksheets so that you can practice/ set goals for your little one's big day!
Saying Goodbye at the Door
This can be one of the toughest moments for both students and parents. The best thing you can do once you've said goodbye is to walk away and not look back. If there are tears, it's even more important that you keep going! You've chosen a school that you trust for your child and when you linger your child is subliminally learning that:
1. You are afraid of leaving them.
- and -
2. Their meltdown is keeping you around.
Let the school staff handle your child once you've said goodbye. It's very tough for us to gain control of the situation or to even begin our relationship with your students on a positive note if we have to actively hold your child back while you painfully walk away. Try to prepare for this moment as much as you can, we know it's emotional for you too!
COVID is putting a damper on our ability to plan playdates and events to help students get to know their new surroundings and new friends. In the meantime, talk up school! Get them excited for all of the new things that they will be learning and experiencing. Laud your child's teacher/school staff to let them know that they should be excited and to help build trust. Practice driving to school and let your child know that, should anything happen, you are only a phone call away!
Using the Restroom
Using the restroom can be another area where students struggle emotionally. At home, bathroom surfaces are safe and a family member is nearby should there be any accidents. Can your child anticipate their restroom needs giving themselves enough time to let someone know that they need help, to be acknowledged, and to make the walk down the hall to the restroom?
It can be frustrating and scary for students to be in a strange restroom, feeling that they can't leave because they have not been able to put their clothes back on (including socks and shoes in the event of an accident). Public restrooms are also a lot louder than most residential toilets and this could scare students into not wanting to use the restroom. We ask that parents work on this one for weeks before school starts. Take your child to a public restroom and observe the habits they have without your prompts. Students should know how to use toilet liners (it can be tricky for children to pull them out without breaking them). Go over what not to touch (toilet seat, floor, trashcan). Why would my child touch the floor? You'd be surprised! We notice children forgetting to flush, wipe, and wash hands because they are excited to return to their class. It happens to the best of us :)
Meal-time can also present some tricky scenarios. Stabbing a juice-box multiple times with no results can be infuriating even for adults! Work on having your students navigating their food and food tools independently.
A common occurrence is that students eat their snacks and lunch all at once which means they don't have much left when it's lunch time. Practice packing a lunch box and having your student discern what they should eat when.
Our staff is of course here to help your child through these all of these moments but the more you can practice these things with them, the easier it will be. Preparing your child to overcome the emotional challenges that school will bring will ensure that they can focus their attention on academics, having fun, and making friends.
Check out this workbook with checklist and worksheets you can use to practice getting ready for school!