Last fall, my oldest child started kindergarten.
He had so many questions and I had very few answers. Things have changed drastically since the day in 1989 when I started kindergarten. The biggest difference is that I attended half-time kindergarten and my son attended full-time kindergarten. Some parents of older children had warned me that kindergarten students will come home from school completely exhausted at first. This certainly held true for my son. If at all possible, try to avoid scheduling a lot of evening activities for your child at the start of the school year. Many new kindergartners will be cranky and tired. Some of them may need to take naps until they get used to their new schedules.
Most parents wonder if their child is truly ready for kindergarten.
I worried about this with my son because his preschool teachers had expressed some concerns about his behavior. Luckily for everyone involved, kindergarten teachers know exactly how to deal with children with vastly different levels of every skill imaginable. Nowadays, schools teach children how to read in kindergarten. Some of the students begin the year already knowing how to read and some of them don’t even recognize all the letters yet. The teachers will meet each child at their own level. Each child reads different books based on their current abilities. My son entered kindergarten knowing his letters, but not reading at all.
During the course of the year, he made great progress and is very confident in his reading skills.
Throughout the course of the school year, I was impressed by the amount of help that is available to students who are struggling in different areas. For example, my son had problems making certain speech sounds. As a result, he saw a speech therapist a couple times a week right at school. My son hated writing in preschool, so his handwriting was barely legible in kindergarten. Therefore, my son’s teacher signed him up for some extra handwriting practice a few times a week. My son was also in a special reading group for students who were reading at or below grade level. It really increased his confidence in his reading skills. When I volunteered at school, I noticed that different groups of students were in and out of the classroom at different times throughout the day, so there didn’t seem to be any stigma about attending these types of programs.
Before starting the school year, I recommend test-driving any food that you plan on sending with your child.
I struggled mightily with lunch issues in the fall before I finally figured things out. Every school has a different food policy, so make sure to check out your district’s rules. At my son’s school, snacks must be individually labelled to ensure that they contain no nut products. I bought fruit snacks at the grocery store after carefully reading the label, but I didn’t realize that each package wasn’t individually labelled until I opened the box at home. I also tried out a few different water bottles before I found one sturdy enough to stand up to my son’s rough treatment.
My best advice is to encourage your child to enjoy kindergarten.
No child is going to have a completely perfect school experience, but if they develop an enthusiasm for learning early in life, they will be set up for success in the future!