There are many BIG days in our lives but once we become parents, one of the most memorable is our child’s first day of Kindergarten. As parents, it’s in our nature to worry—but wouldn’t it be nice to feel completely at ease on the first day of kindergarten?
As a parent, kindergarten teacher, and experienced school principal, I have reassured more parents than I have children about the first day of school. Being informed and prepared is central to a successful, worry-free entry into kindergarten. The proof is in the planning—here are a few tips on how to be a confident kindergarten parent!
- Know your child.
Knowing your child, coupled with insight from others, definitely helps the process:
- List your child’s personal strengths and needs.
- Reflect on his/her overall personality.
- Envision the environment you see your child thriving in—where will he/she be happy?
- Know what you want in a school.
Kindergarten is such a crucial year. Interestingly, I have often heard parents say “It’s just kindergarten”. Kindergarten is so much more than that but that’s for another blog! To help you find the right fit, consider these questions:
- What is the philosophy of the school and how are its values emphasized in the day-to-day? Get specifics.
- Does the school and teaching staff promote a nurturing environment that encourages a sense of community and parental involvement?
- What does the kindergarten program look like and how does it transition into the primary years, given that most children remain in the same school throughout their elementary experience?
- Can the school meet the needs of ALL of my children? Is this something that I care about?
- Are there after-school services like daycare?
- Is the reputation important to you? The location?
- Go online! Visit different school websites and social media pages to get great insight into the daily life at the school.
- Ask about an open house—seeing is believing, and nothing will give you a better sense of the school than being there in person (i.e., the “feeling” in the school, the classroom appeal, the facilities available, etc.).
- Make sure that you get answers to your questions from someone at the school. Speak to the teachers, and if you can, some of the parents. If necessary, visit the school a second time.
- Choose from more than a list of one.
There’s a lot of choice out there. Consider multiple schools so you can make the decision that’s right for your child (or children if you have more than one) and your family.
There’s so much in life that’s beyond our control; that’s why starting a new school year excited and worry-free is a wonderful feeling. Knowing that you made the right choice gives everyone involved that feeling. I can say this from both personal and professional experience.
Mission accomplished and job well done!
Parent, Teacher and Junior School Director @ Lower Canada College in Montreal