Beginning kindergarten is a childhood milestone; here are some tips to help make it go smoothly
Families can’t prepare for everything, but you can prepare for some certain scenarios your child will encounter in kindergarten. Remember, while this milestone can be challenging for children, it is anticipated that it is more difficult on parents than it is the tiniest of students.
Do you have a child going into kindergarten? While some Champaign-Urbana balanced calendar schools have started, other schools will be starting up in the next month or so. Even if your child has attended preschool or other early learning program, this is a major milestone.
Thank you to Christie Clinic for presenting our 2021 Champaign-Urbana Area Back to School series.
Christie Clinic is encouraging parents to schedule a school physical. Starting school physical appointments now will allow Christie Clinic Department of Pediatrics and Department of Family Medicine to best serve all patients while maintaining a safe visit environment. Enhanced precautions are in place to keep patients and team members safe including additional hours, visitor restrictions and social distancing to reduce the number of people in our facilities. Parents can currently make back-to-school appointments for their children through their MyChristie patient portal or online at christieclinic.com.
Here’s a few (veteran mom) tips on getting your child ready for kindergarten in the last few weeks before school starts. These tips are focused on some practical stuff to make sure your child is successful in those first few weeks with just the basics – getting up on time, knowing the morning routine, being able to eat lunch quickly.
Tip 1: Adjust their bedtime! If you’ve been on a flexible summer (or COVID) bedtime schedule, start easing your child back into a “school” bedtime. Figure out what time she/he needs to be awake, and work backwards on what bedtime will work. Start moving back the bedtime at least five minutes every night. Depending on your schedule this summer, you might to need to start sooner than later! (This goes for all kids, not just kindergarten.)
Tip 2: Get into the building, if possible. Circumstances have made this more of a challenge, but we know our schools care deeply about our youngest students and expect there will still be opportunities to visit school ahead of the big day. If you child isn’t familiar with the building, call and ask for a tour. Most buildings have summer hours, so they’re not completely closed. Just make sure to explain to your kiddo in advance what’s happening. Often it might be the principal who is working in the school, so might be a good opportunity to meet him or her. If your child isn’t able to get into the building, drive by the school and talk about the new experiences that your child will have there. Park your car and walk around the building and even look at the playground. These will all show your child that you are excited about their transition to everyday school, as well, and help them look forward with anticipation to the big day.
Tip 3: Take advantage of any back to school activities your school offers, ahead of the first day. Opportunities vary from school to school. Some schools have playdates or other school-based events that are open to all families. Open houses or back-to-school nights also take place at many schools allowing parents to drop off school supplies and other materials. If you aren’t sure of the possibilities that might exist at your school, check for a PTA group or call the school office.
Tip 4: If there aren’t any back to school activities planned, make your own. Plan a casual playdate or network with your school’s PTA. Just set a time and pass the word to other kindergarten parents, who may know other parents they can invite. If you don’t know anyone, if you contact the building, ask if there is any way they can help contact parents.
Tip 5: Make sure you know your morning routine. Starting the day out in a rush is no fun for anyone. Figure out how much time you need in the morning for various tasks and develop a schedule, including: picking out clothes (or will that be done the night before?) dressing; grooming (brushing teeth and hair, among other things!); getting a lunch together (if bringing from home); putting the backpack together; making and eating breakfast; and transportation time. Don’t forget to include departure.
Tip 6: Practice the morning routine. Do a few (or more) dry run-throughs in the morning to see if your time estimates hold true, and if you can indeed get to school/the bus stop/before care on time.
Tip 7: Make sure everyone in the family can see a daily schedule (even if they can’t read yet – use symbols!). Post the schedule where everyone in the family can see it – and in view of a digital clock, if your child can read one. Some children benefit from a list of these activities to follow along with in the morning to make that transition time easier.
Tip 8: Eliminate any potential lunch frustration. If you send a cold lunch with your student, make sure your child can open everything you plan to put in the lunch – including items such as yogurt tubes, sandwich bags, and reusable containers – without help from a grownup.
Tip 9: Practice eating lunch with your child in 15 minutes or less. Many schools have short lunch periods, even for kindergarteners and many kindergarten students are not used to eating lunch in a given time period. Find out how long your child has for eating lunch, and then set a timer when your child eats. For some kids, this isn’t a problem. Others might struggle. Of course, it’s hard to simulate the hustle and bustle of the school, but this is more about time than anything else.
Tip 10: Go to the library and find some books about kindergarten; tell your child about your own memories of kindergarten. It doesn’t hurt to read a few books about the first day of kindergarten, even if they are silly, or sad. Perhaps they might evoke some thoughts and feelings, and be a jumping off point for discussion. And remind your child that you were once in kindergarten, too! We can’t promise that you (mom, dad, grandma, or grandpa) won’t have a hard time those first few days sending your child off on new adventures; however, with a little practice and patience, your child can be ready to tackle kindergarten with confidence and pride.
Check out our entire Back to School Series, presented by Christie Clinic:
- Back to School: Preparing Your Child for Kindergarten
- Back to School: 9 Tips to Prepare for the School Routine
- Money-Saving Tips for Back-to-School Shopping
- Champaign-Urbana Area School Start Dates
- Back to School: Dental, Vision Exams Required for Illinois Students
- Champaign-Urbana Area School Registration Information for 2021-22
- Back to School: Immunizations Required for Illinois Students
- School Physicals: What’s Required for Illinois Students in 2021