No matter how eager a child is to enter kindergarten, there may be a little anxiety for parents.
Sue Tonnesen, principal at Hans Helgesen elementary, has spoken to many parents over the years who were nervous and wondering if their kids were ready for the big step to school.
Kindergarten registration for the Sooke School District began Jan. 27 for September intake.
Some parents arrive concerned if their child is born at the end of the year and would be the youngest in the class. Others are worried when their child can’t use the washrooms by themselves, or has trouble with scissors, Tonnesen explained.
“Sometimes they have accidents and some of them need their little bums wiped,” she said, noting that it’s OK for children learn potty training in kindergarten.
“When the little ones come into kindergarten they are very tender, they have only been on this earth for five years. Parents shouldn’t worry too much about their development,” said Gerri Washbrook, a Hans Helgesen kindergarten teacher.
“Kindergarten isn’t about reading and writing. It’s about playing, sharing and socializing.”
In kindergarten children are expected to dress themselves when going outside. Parents can now start letting children assess the weather and make decisions about what type of jacket they should be wearing and if they need other items like hats and gloves.
Both educators stress its important for parents to spend a lot of time reading with their children. “It improves their attention span,” Tonnesen said.
While there is no specific set skills children must learn before entering school, parents can spend extra time with child helping them share, be patent and using manners.
“It’s nice if they can use scissors and to hold a pencil properly it’s hard to change once it’s been established,” Washbrook said. “It’s also nice if the children can recognize their own name and print it.”
“These kids come in with a wide range in skills and abilities,” she said. “That’s the beauty if kindergarten, they come here to learn all that stuff.”
One of the key challenges for new kindergarten students is speaking clearly so they can be understood by their teacher and peers.
“It’s important to ensure your child is intelligible,” Tonnesen said. “If parents don’t have an older child in school they may not have a baseline for their child.”
Often day care centres with early childhood educators can help parents learn if their children are having difficulties with their speech and language pathology. ECE workers are also at the Strong Start programs offered through SD62 for preschoolers.
Familiarizing a child with the school they are attending can make the transition in September much easier.
Parents are encouraged to bring children to the school for a Strong Start program or to play at the playgrounds to get used to the surroundings.