Making the leap from kindergarten to grade 1? Here’s how you can make the transition easy and fun.
Being in the education field for 9 years now and working with Trio World School, I see a lot of children, both from Trio Tots (Kindergarten) and other preschools, enter First Grade ICSE. I understand that this transition is both exciting and anxious.
The early education literature validates the notion that not only is the move from preschool to kindergarten daunting but transition from a relatively warm, caring, child-centered kindergarten to a potentially more intimidating and less flexible first grade classroom is also quite a struggle for many children and their parents. In fact, this transition has been called a critical period for young children’s social and academic development. Parents and school authorities often are faced with the challenging tasks of attending to the cognitive, social and emotional changes that children experience during this important time of transition.
What changes during Grade 1?
1. Half day to full day
2. Eating lunch at school everyday. Lunches return half eaten.
3. Having their own desks with their own things instead of tables and carpet squares
4. New teachers and new friends
5. Varied teaching strategies and pedagogy
6. Shorter play time
Here are some tips for parents to help children in smooth transition from Kindergarten to First Grade before the school starts
1. First grade readiness is all about emotional readiness. You can print out this checklist of skills that you can help your child with before he or she joins grade 1. Make sure you use fun and relaxed ways to get your child attuned to the idea of a big school.
2. Use exciting and different ways to get your child to understand numeracy and literacy. Take them to the supermarket and count items, point out letters and words when traveling in a car or walking outside. Have many conversations. All this contributes significantly to oral language.
3. Get familiar with the school. Before the first day of school, visit the school with your child so that the route, the building, and school surroundings become familiar. Most of the schools do have Orientation / Open Day for parents, make sure your child is part of the Orientation and let the child meet the class teacher and visit the classroom.
4. Start the routine early. It is always good to start early when it comes to the daily routine of getting up early, eating breakfast, packing a snack and going to school.
5. Practice being organized. From keeping their pencils back in the box to packing the bag before leaving school for home, encourage the kids to do things independently — pack their bags, put away their play things, etc.
6. Going shopping for new school supplies? Let the children select the items! Or at least be with you when you purchase, because they need to identify their belongings in school!
If after a few weeks your child is still struggling with the transition, here is what you should look into.
1. Think of what is typical for your child
If you have a child that is typically not anxious about going back to school or has low levels of anxiety about going back to school, and all of a sudden this looks much different and the levels of anxiety are much higher than before, you may want to investigate more and ask the child more questions.
2. Empathize with your child
Let your child know you understand something is wrong and you want to help.
3. Name the problem
Identify the specific problem your child is having. If your child doesn’t want to go to school, why?
4. Work with your child to put a plan in place
Often kids have really great ideas about how they could get support. Children like to feel that they are actively a part of, and have some kind of control over, the future. When they know the plan, when they are part of it, they are likely to feel more successful and to buy into the plan.
5. Work with the teacher
The teacher works with your child on a daily basis and probably has experienced similar issues with other children. The teacher will often have very helpful ideas to rectify the situation.
6. Get help elsewhere
If none of the above works, contact a counselor or a psychologist. Some children will adjust quickly, and others may need more time before they develop longer attention spans. Patience is vital. Be consistent in your expectations, praise your child for the effort, and always keep the channels of communication open with your child’s teacher. A little preparation can help pave the way to a successful transition. Finally, constant support and encouragement is an important part of helping your child to make any transition, including the transition to first grade.
Helping your child feel like a “big kid,” and telling him that he is smart, and that you are proud of all of his hard work will encourage him to work harder in first grade.