When my son moved from his preschool to Kindergarten, I did not think it would be a big deal. After all, he was used to a school environment and had gone through all the issues of separation anxiety so I thought it would pretty much be an extension of preschool. However, there are a few differences which I came across. It helps to make the transition from preschool to kindergarten easier if you can prepare your child for some of these changes.
1. Longer school day: If your child is going for a full-day Kindergarten program then it’s likely he/she may need to get used to a longer day’s schedule. For my son the biggest adjustment was a longer day without nap time. It took him almost a month to get adjusted to the no nap schedule even though I had prepared him from the summer.
A longer day also means having lunch in school within a stipulated time period. This can sometimes be a challenge especially if your child gets easily distracted (as mine does) when there are other kids around. Giving easy to eat finger food (at least at the start of the year) worked well in getting my kid into the habit of finishing his meal on time.
2. Larger classrooms: Typical public school classrooms have around 15-20 kids which was a change from the 12 or less kids that my child was used to in his preschool set up. While he was quite happy to interact with more kids some might find it daunting at first to be in a large class with so many children. You could try exposing your child to more team sports, group play-dates where your child gets into the habit of being comfortable with having many kids around.
3. Larger Age-Gaps: Red shirting is a common phenomenon and so you might find that your child’s class has children who are more than a year older. Having a summer-born kid who invariably was the youngest in his class, I tried a couple of ways to help him get comfortable with older kids:
- I arranged play-dates right at the start of the school year with some of the bigger kids.
- I stayed in regular touch with my child’s teacher so that she was also aware that my kid was among the youngest in the class.
Montessori kids will not face this issue since they are used to mixed age classrooms from the outset.
4. Structured Curriculum: There does seem to be a more structured approach to learning in Kindergarten.
- Reading is strongly emphasized - my son’s school sent us a reading log to keep track of the books read.
- Also basic math concepts such as addition were introduced over the course of the year.
- The biggest change was in the fact that he got homework. While it hardly took a few minutes it required him to develop the habit of sitting down for a few minutes every day to do the work. There are several Kindergarten workbooks which you can take the help of over the summer to inculcate this habit. Check our Learning store for Thomas the Tank Engine and Disney workbooks.
5. Classroom Environment: While there is still a lot of emphasis on interactive learning and learning through play, there does seem to be a more defined teaching and classroom experience as well.
- For instance, kids in my son’s classroom were assigned to a table with other kids and this was the table where they sat every day for the entire semester.
- A lot of the work takes place in small group set-ups and kids are expected to remain seated longer than the freer, play-based environment of a preschool. Since my son was an extremely active 5-year old, I started working with him a month before school started to get him to sit in one place for around 10 minutes and do some quiet activity such as a puzzle or art.
Most kids make the transition easily from preschool to Kindergarten. However, it always helps to know what to expect and to use all available tools to make the jump easier for your child.
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