Communicate with the School
If your child has additional needs or may have a complicated transition to school, reach out to the school during the registration processes to make sure everyone is on the same page in planning for your child’s success. If you have a support worker, they can help with the formal process of transition planning.
Visit the School
Many schools arrange visits for incoming children the spring before they’ll attend. Sometimes they offer ‘getting ready for school’ programs, or parent nights, classroom tours etc. Sign up for everything you’re able to!
Layla T. of KTTPS school liked meeting teachers and seeing her classroom in person before she was ready to start Kindergarten.
One of CLKD’s supported families suggests “If the school playground is open, take your child on weekends to walk the grounds, see the outdoor classroom, and play on the equipment” this will help them feel more familiar and confident when the time comes for them to attend.
Talk About School Positively
Tell your child about all the fun things they’ll do at school. Make sure they know their caregiver will always be there to collect them at the end of each day (at school or bus stop). Talk about how fun and exciting it will be, how they will meet new friends, and have kind adults in their class who can help them if they need.
Make sure your child knows that the school has their adult’s phone number to call them whenever necessary, this can help put some nervous children at ease.
Many schools will direct you to social media or websites where you can show your child actual photos of their school and classes. Some may even have video tours you can watch together at home. If your child could benefit from additional videos and photos to ease transition anxiety, reach out to your support worker or to the school resource team to see if this is an option.
Some children do very well using ‘social stories’. This is a customized story book you make at home using real photos of your child and the school, to talk about them attending school. There are many samples online, or reach out to our Infant & Child Development Coordinator for tips and support.
Logan G. enjoyed looking at his personalized book that showed the coat rack where he would hang his backpack, the library where he would go to hear stories and borrow books, and so on.
There are so many positive stories out there about attending school, visit your local library to browse a few and borrow to take home. You can also find virtual books and audio books online! Stories like “The Invisible String” and “The Kissing Hand” might help children who are nervous to leave their caregivers.
CLKD parents have added these books to the suggestion list: On the First Day of Kindergarten, The Night Before Kindergarten, Elmo Goes to School, Clifford Goes to Kindergarten, Kindergarten Rocks, Pinkalicious School Rules, Dora’s First Day of School, First Day Jitters, Ready Set Kindergarten, Adventure Annie Goes to Kindergarten
Children work through lots of emotions and get more comfortable with new situations when it’s done through play. Play school together! Practice sitting in circle time, raising your hand, answering questions about a story and so on.
Practice opening and closing back pack, lunch bag, and lunch containers as well. You might need to try a few kinds before you find what works best with your child’s fine motor skills.
Don’t be afraid to let your child’s school know if there are skills your child is still working on that you’d like support with.
This is also a great time to practice getting ready for those recess transitions! Parent Miranda G. said “I had my children practice independently getting ready for recess, included changing shoes, zipping jackets, etc. to be as independent as possible”
If you can find other families in the area who have children attending the same school, having playdates for the children is a great idea. This helps ensure a familiar face on their first day! Its also a great time to work on those social skills like turn taking, sharing, and conflict resolution that children are building at this age.
Get on Schedule
If possible, find out the schedule the school uses and a few months before attending start getting your child on a similar schedule. Make sure they’ll be able to wake up and get ready in the morning without too much rushing and stress. Have them used to the school’s lunch times and so on.
Parent Erin T. shared “ Getting that morning routine going was key - we get dressed, have breakfast, pack lunches and bags brush teeth, all in the same order every morning so eventually some independence could be gained.”