The key to kindergarten

It’s natural for parents to feel a little nervous about how their child will cope with starting kindergarten, but there’s a great deal you can do to help your child feel confident and settled from day one.

Before Kindy starts there are many things you can do at home to help with kindy-readiness.

Read: Read to your child each day. Children’s books are an effective way of helping kids make sense of the world around them. Whether it’s a new sibling on the way, a first day at kindergarten, a fear or an emotion, there is always a great children’s book on hand to help guide children through the many triumphs and challenges of life.

Reading is also a great way to help prepare toddlers for preschool or kindergarten. There are plenty of books that can help emphasise good behaviours and values. 

Talk to your child about their environment: Help your child name common objects. Listen to your child. The more they are given the opportunity to talk, the better they can learn to express thoughts clearly.

Sing songs and nursery rhymes: Songs and nursery rhymes help with their language development. This can be a fun way to expand their knowledge of words and phrases.

Keep a scrapbook: Let your child use safety scissors to cut out pictures and paste in tickets from movies or other holiday activities. Preschool children love doing this and it will help them develop basic skills they will use at kindy. Watch your child as they cut and draw and show them the proper way to hold the scissors or pencil.

Practice personal skills: Communicating so that others can understand, knowing how to take care of personal needs such as going to the bathroom or washing hands, and being able to handle clothing (e.g. zip up or button a jacket) are all useful skills to practice at home. Learning to get along with others and share, as well as tidying up after playtime is also important.

Encourage listening and concentration: You might like to encourage your child to listen to a story without interrupting too often – something that will be required at kindy. 

Naming basic shapes and colours is a fun preschool activity – as is counting to ten and learning the alphabet. There are some great books on the market that can assist with learning these things, as well as the names of everyday objects.

When it’s time to start Kindy.

Do a trial run: Do a trial run of your first day. Practice getting up, getting dressed and travelling to kindy. Make sure your child has their clothes, hat, sunscreen, bag and anything else they will need for the first day ready and packed the night before. 

Label absolutely everything: Write your child’s name on all belongings including, lunch box, books, pencil case, clothes and shoes. Kindergarten children are just beginning to learn to look after their belongings, so label everything.

Make food easy to unwrap or open: Pack a lunch or play lunch that is easy to open, easy to eat and not messy. It’s best to avoid cling wrap as children have difficulty unwrapping it – and many schools are becoming more environmentally aware these days and encouraging rubbish-free lunches. A simple lunch box that is easy to open will do the trick.

Understand play-based learning: Most kindergartens aim to provide an educational environment where kids have the chance to learn through play and have the time to experience their world.

Children are observed to see where their strengths and weakness are and what their interests are, so that teachers can then plan a program that reflects these observations. Programs and objectives are usually on display. 

What the child actually does at kindy is the most important thing – not what they bring home.  

Talk about their day: When your child comes home ask them questions about their day. Children tend to do better when their parents or carers take an active interest in their education.

Children need to hear positive messages about themselves, their work and the value of education. Hearing these things will boost their confidence in learning.