So, just like that, your baby’s off to Big School. Juggle Street’s A-Z guide will help prepare you and your child for the weird and wonderful new world of Kindergarten.
Your child will need to be assessed before classes are set (Best Start program in NSW and Transition Statement in Vic). Don’t panic, it’s not a test! It simply helps the school get a handle on where each child is at, which can normally take months to gauge, and they can get straight into fun and learning.
Find kids’ books about starting school to read with your child during the holidays.
Get ready to get snap-happy taking those super cute pics of them in oversized uniforms and big, shiny shoes. This may be the neatest they’ll look for the next 13 years.
Set aside a morning to do a ‘pretend’ school-day start: get up on time, pack bag, uniform on and travel to school.
A child going off to Kindy is a bittersweet time when you may experience feelings that hit you in the gut and whack you behind the tear-ducts. Remember: you are not alone!.
Having a friend(s) at Big School will make a huge difference to a happy school start. If your child will know no-one, Orientation is a good time to get to know other kids and parents and set up some playdates beforehand.
Get ready for an incredibly formative year where you’ll witness amazing change in your child. Imagine: by Christmas your little person will be reading, writing and doing sums.
The ‘no hat-no play’ sun safety policy is standard across primary school playgrounds; they’ll only be allowed to play under cover without one. Instill a no-hat-sharing habit to prevent contracting head lice when – not if – there’s an outbreak.
Prepare for your social media feed to be flooded with pics of other Kindy kids in ginormous uniforms. Go on, give them all a Like.
The 3pm finish will affect many working parents accustomed to long daycare hours. Introduce new after-school babysitters, nannies and carers to kids well before the start of school to prevent them being overwhelmed by too many new people in their lives.
Kids should ideally start school knowing the alphabet and basic counting. Many kids can write their name and some can read a few words – but don’t worry if yours can’t, they will learn these soon enough.
Pack a lunch that’s easy to eat and open, and not messy. Lunchboxes can be daunting for parents at first, so visit sites such as healthy-kids.com.au for some food-spiration.
Celebrate this life landmark with a special event, such as a dinner out, at the end of their first week.
Welcome to the world of labelling all your child’s belongings with their name. Many Kindy parents have fancy adhesive nametags made – which have often disappeared by Year 6 when labelling is a hasty scrawl with a permanent marker.
The more familiar your child is with the school, the better their start will be. Don’t miss school orientations or pre-school transition days which will show them the lay of the land and introduce Kindy routines, such as bell times and lunchbox practice.
If you’re feeling worried, sad or anxious, try to keep it from your child to prevent them mirroring your concerns. Speak positively and enthusiastically school and how great they’ll be.
Resist the temptation to bombard them after the first day as they’ll be worn out. On ensuing days (week, years...) always ask even if the response to “how was your day” is limited to “good”, “fine” or “okay”.
After a week or two, your child will begin bringing home a reader each day. Do the home readers with them with much patience and praise. Class teachers will also ask parent helpers to volunteer for class reading time.
Distress when parents depart is very common for kids on their first day of Kindy (see TEARS). Most will separate well after a few days and almost all after two weeks.
Will they cry, or won’t they? It’s impossible to predict. (Ditto for parents.) A usually independent child may drag their mother’s leg out the classroom door, sobbing, while an anxious one could cruise through it all.
This is such a special part of starting Kindy. As school approaches, have kids try on their uniform and break-in their new shoes, especially when you have visitors to make them feel extra proud.
Make sure your child’s immunisations are up to date before you enrol into your chosen school.
Get ready for ‘sight words,’ frequently used words that are part of the Kindy curriculum. To get a head start, you can find the list of Kindy sight words online, in flash card form, or introduce them to the wonderful Reading Eggs program.
The first day could be tough for you too, so organise something enjoyable to do after drop-off, such as coffee or movie with a friend.
Remember that fatigue after the first day at a new job? Magnify that by a thousand to understand how your child will initially feel after 6-hour school days: exhausted!