Going from preschool or kindergarten to elementary school is a big change. This is how to help your child make a smooth transition.
Every year, almost five million children start a new school year at Canadian public schools. Many of these children are little ones just starting school for the first time, and it can be a difficult transition both for the kids and the parents.
So how can you help your child make this transition into elementary school? Read on to get a few ideas of how you can make this exciting time easier for everyone involved!
The first step is to start preparing yourself and your child well before they go off to school on that first day. You want your kid to know what’s coming and be as prepared as they can be so that those first few days aren’t totally overwhelming.
You can start by finding out where they will be going to school and what supplies they will need. Incorporate your child into this planning process! They can go with you when you get them school clothes, pick out meals for their school days, and look at all of the neat school supplies they’ll start using.
It’s important to give them some element of control and choice here, even if it’s just picking what colour notebook they want! The child will feel a lot better if they’re a small part of the preparation process, and you’ll get to enjoy the time with them!
It’s also important to start preparing their schedule for the transition to school, particularly their sleep schedule. Get them used to going to bed at a decent time and waking up earlier, and they’ll be a lot happier when they have to do it for real.
One of the best things you can do to help your child is to visit the school together before the school year starts. See if they’ll let you in during the summer, and you can walk through the halls with your child. You might even get to find out which classrooms they’ll be in when they start!
This will be hugely helpful to your child, as it’ll eliminate one huge unknown in their life when they start the transition. The experience of starting school will still be new, but the location won’t be.
Even if you aren’t allowed inside the building, you can still drive to the outside and show your new elementary school student what it looks like. And depending on the rules, you may even be allowed to walk them around the outside. Have them play on the playground for a bit, and admire the architecture with them!
Basically, you want to make as many things familiar for your child so that the unfamiliar is less overwhelming. Whether it’s a private elementary school or a public school, they’re going to have a lot of new experiences to navigate. You want these experiences to be enjoyable rather than overwhelming!
It also helps to talk with your child and explain things to them. They may not understand everything at first, but simple, clear explanations can go a long way. Talking through things can help both of you deal with back-to-school anxiety and confusion.
Tell them what their school supplies will be used for, and maybe practise using some of them. You can get some notebooks and have your child practise writing their name, letters, and numbers. It doesn’t have to be difficult, but the familiarity with these basic things will make them much more at ease when they hit school!
You also want to have an explanation for the inevitable “why?” Why do they need to go to school, and why is it so much work? Having a simple, easy explanation ready may help them understand better what’s going on, which can make them much happier when they have to go through those changes.
And these explanations can also help you through this process as well. It’s tough to watch your little ones go off on their own! You need support and comfort as well, and talking through the changes can help you process this new time.
You can also get in touch with your child’s teachers and talk about your child. Teachers in elementary education love engaged parents, and they will almost certainly be grateful for a chat or email to learn more about how they can help your new student!
These teachers will be with your child five days of the week for hours on end, so helping them foster a good relationship is very helpful. You can talk with the teacher and tell them about your child’s personality, strengths, and weaknesses. They’ll really benefit from this insight.
Finding out more about the teacher can also help your child! You may learn how the teacher wants things done in their class or what kind of materials they ask their students to bring. This lets you and your child be more prepared ahead of time, which creates one more bit of familiarity in the new setting.
At the end of the day, there will almost certainly be tears. Whether it’s your child’s tears as they leave or yours after they’re gone, it’s a part of life.
But don’t let that keep you down! Transitions can be tough, but in the long run, this change is for the best. Your little one will grow up, make lots of friends, and learn all sorts of useful skills, and that’s something to celebrate!
To help your child make the transition, you may have to hold back the tears to help them. Seeing their parents in distress can often make the struggle worse for them.
As tough as it is, you might need to cry after they’ve left for school! You want them to succeed, and a great way to do that is to put on a brave face as your little one marches into a new era of life.
Helping your child start elementary school is important, but it’s only the beginning of their educational journey! There are a lot of great years of learning ahead for them, and you doubtless want to do everything you can to help them along the way.
If you’d like more advice for helping your child’s education, or you’re interested in seeing what our innovative school can do for your family, contact us! Our goal is to help the next generation of students thrive and learn so that they can go on to succeed in every path of life.