There’s no shortage of information out there on school readiness. It’s an important mission and we’ve enjoyed sharing posts and lists over the summer months to equip parents and caregivers as they prepare their rising kindergarteners for the transition of school.
But in all of the useful tips, creative ideas, and must-read books, it’s easy to lose sight of the most important thing your young child needs as they begin school:
Feeling loved and secure
It’s more important than knowing all of their letters and numbers or having strong fine motor skills.
It’s more important than having a fancy new backpack.
It’s more important than knowing their way around the school.
Why? Because children who feel loved, supported, and secure have an easier time focusing and learning in the classroom.
So how do you make sure your child feels loved and secure? Here are 4 simple but foundational ways:
1. Tell them with words and show them with affection.
Tell them how much they are loved and cared for. Tell them they’re ready for school even if they don’t feel ready. Remind them that you’ll be there for them when their day is over.
They may be extra clingy as they begin school and need more hugs and snuggle time. Be there for them in these simple but important ways.
2. Have a routine.
Consistent bedtimes, mealtimes, nighttime routines, and morning routines are huge for the young child. Knowing what to expect helps them feel secure and builds their confidence.
3. Practice patience.
Every single child is different. Some walk into school on the first day with all the confidence in the world. Others may cry and not let go of your leg in the hallway outside the classroom. This doesn’t mean you haven’t done your job as a parent. Every child responds differently to change and new situations.
Even the child who walks in with confidence may fall apart when they get home because they’re exhausted.
As your child adjusts and adapts, they need your patience and understanding. They may need extra time and attention. Emotionally, they may begin to act more like a 3-year-old than a 5-year-old, at least for a while. This is all normal. Let your love and responsiveness provide consistency in the midst of all the change.
4. Manage your own stress.
Stress is part of life. But it’s important to manage stress in ways that protect our children from chaos and upheaval. Even a bright and capable child may struggle to learn if they don’t have a foundation of security at home.
When you do have stress, if life does feel like it’s spinning out of control, continue to provide your child with love and consistent routines as much as possible.
For more encouragement on back-to-school transition, check out these posts:
Why Kids Need Routines from Aha Parenting
5 Tips to Help Your Young Child Transition to School from Pickens County First Steps
6 Simple Ways to Help Your Child FEEL Ready for Kindergarten from SC First Steps to School Readiness
By Marian Vischer, Pickens County First Steps