Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Preparing for Kindergarten

My twins started kindergarten this morning, and I am still in shock. It’s not that we haven’t been preparing for this moment all summer. We definitely have. However, I was still expecting a difficult first morning. I thought they’d cling to me and say they didn’t want to go. But, much to my surprise, my twins hopped out of the car this morning in carline and headed for their new classrooms by themselves! I was fully prepared to try to find a parking spot and head in with them, which is why I’m in shock that they went in as if they’ve been going there for years! It was the last thing I expected, but I’m thrilled! It also makes me feel confident that some of the things we did to help them prepare for kindergarten must have had an impact. Perhaps the following ideas will be helpful for you, too.

- We attended all open houses scheduled by the school. In the spring, we went on a tour of the school and met all of the kindergarten staff. This week, we went in to meet each child’s teacher and find their specific classroom, where we located their cubbies (cupboards for their backpacks and lunch bags) and explored the centers and toys. We also looked for the cafeteria where they’ll be eating. Now the school is a familiar place to my kids and they aren’t so concerned about getting lost.

- We read books about going to school. Going to the library is a weekly event for us, and I picked up books about going to kindergarten and enjoying school every time we went. As we read them, we would talk about how much fun the characters were having and how realistic their experiences were. The kids came to see school as an interesting and exciting place.

- We let the kids pick out some of their school supplies. For example, I was surprised at how thrilled my boys were to pick out a towel for rest time! They made a big production out of selecting just the right color. (And I was happy to find towels they loved for only $3.50 at Target!) Now they’re very excited to use their new towels. They also selected new crayons and other supplies that they’re looking forward to using.

- In addition to reading books, we talked about what will happen in kindergarten whenever the opportunity arose. We drove by the school and pointed out the playground. We talked about lunch and snack time. We mentioned how they’re going to learn how to read so they can read their own books! We just talked about school as if it was already a part of their lives. They had been going to pre-K, but now they were going to “big boy school,” which made them proud.

- I called one of my son’s teachers before school started to let her know how he might react to the first day of school. One of my twins can be a little impulsive and uncooperative at times, but over the years we’ve discovered certain tactics for eliciting positive behavior from him. So, I spoke privately to his new teacher before school started to share these pointers and let her know that we would work with her to make kindergarten a positive experience for everyone. I’m really glad I did this because the teacher knew to be especially attentive to him at the open house and made a wonderful impression. Surprisingly, he was the child who was most excited to go to school this morning!

So, I’m anxiously awaiting the end of the school day to see how my twins’ first day went! I’m hoping they had a wonderful time and will be excited to go to school each day. Their experiences in kindergarten could really set the tone for the rest of their lives in terms of how they feel about school and learning. I’d love for you to share any tips you have for helping kids to start kindergarten and enjoy school!


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