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Moms Talk: Kindergarten Countdown

We're talking all about that transition to school.

Last spring, I promised my 5-and-a-half-year-old daughter that I would let her know when we were five days away from entering kindergarten and that we would count down the days together. I also told her that until I said the words "Kindergarten Countdown," she shouldn't even think about it. After all, at that time it was still a ways off and she has no concept of time. All this came about because she told me she was scared to leave preschool.

So here we are, a few days shy of Labor Day weekend and the kindergarten countdown will be well underway this Sunday. Having gone through this twice before, I can tell you about some strategies that I have used and will use this time around to help her ease right into her first day.

I'll start off with the two of us making a personalized, five-day calendar in large banner form that we will hang up in our art room and cross off each day together as they come. Kids at this age are so visual, and she can make more sense of something if she can see it.

I also have great kid books for us to read, one for each of those five days (my favorite, "Barnaby Goes to Kindergarten.") We'll head over to the school on Sunday and peek into the window of her classroom so she can see it, and we'll walk around the grounds of the school to get familiar with her new environment (we did just do a playground playdate with some of her new classmates – that helped!).

We'll talk about all sorts of things like pick-up and drop-off, teachers meeting her upon her arrival to school, how she'll never be alone and she won't get lost. All the things I worried about when I was that age.

Finally, I created this little ritual for my kids as they enter kindergarten, a ritual that my fifth and seventh grader still hold onto in their backpacks to this day. I pack a small little charm in a little Ziplock that goes to school with them every day, every year. This charm serves as a good luck piece, but more importantly, as a small reminder of something larger than life, that is mommy and daddy's love for her, especially when she is away from us. 

Hopefully all these things will help make her transition somewhat easier.

So what are some of the things you have done or plan to do with your kindergartner? Any tips or tricks to make this transition smooth?

Amy Simmons September 01, 2011 at 08:42 PM
We did a lot of talking about kindergarten before both of our kids started. Talking about what to expect, what their day would look like, how someone would always be with them--all of the reassurances that kids need and want to hear, and repeatedly and patiently so they remembered and believed them. Wayland is great for transitioning the kids into kindergarten, as well, with the kindergarten kids starting a few days later than the rest of the schools, and in that time the kids get to go into their school once or twice ahead of time for screening and to see their classroom and to meet their teachers and to see a bit of the school so it all looks more familar, and the teachers are all so good at the screening by explaining how that first day of school will go and how they'll be waiting outside to greet all of the kids as they arrive and how they will all walk into school together for the first few days. It's wonderful. And for all of those teary parents saying 'good-bye', there is then a casual coffee social hour right at the school sponsored by the PTO to meet and greet old friends and new and to take your minds off your first day of kindergarten. :-)
Jenny Harding September 02, 2011 at 12:48 PM
I'm taking my kindergartner's lead and only talking about it when he brings it up. We've already been on the playground and snuck into the school to see his classroom. He picked out his back pack, lunch box, and school supplies. This week and next we are having playdates with kids in his class so he will see a friendly face or two on the first day. I also might go to the store with him and have him pick out a special shirt to wear so it gives him something happy to focus on. I might have him pick out a special lunch too. My little guy is a worrier so if I can give him happy stuff to focus on like a new back pack, new shirt, and a Lunchable then he might forget to stay up at night pacing the floors with worry! (Not an exaggeration!)

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