The year is coming fast to an end (when did this happen??) which also means that for many parents there is another thing on their mind……the countdown to kindy!
It’s a bittersweet time, our little ones are embarking on a new journey of independence and an exciting new phase in their lives, but it’s also one that can cause distress and anxiety for some.
And the way we handle these fears is key to ensuring a smooth and positive transition.
Whether it’s your first born, middle child or baby who enjoyed their last days at playgroup and are now heading off to big school – here are some suggestions to help this exciting time run smoothly.
If you haven’t separated from your child before, now may be the time to start practicing.
Talk to your child about how they’re going to be spending some time with another carer (this could be a parent, grandparent or trusted babysitter) and talk about all the fun they’re going to have with them.
Be transparent, tell them you will be leaving – but that you will be coming back.
When you’re ready to leave, make sure that you always say goodbye even if your child gets upset. You might think that sneaking out is the easier option for you both, it will only add to their anxiety and make them not feel very secure or trusting about their environment.
Once the person you are leaving them with has your little one’s attention, for example in a game or fun activity, say goodbye and leave. Saying goodbye over and over will just upset them even more, so a quick goodbye is best.
Do tell your child when you will be coming back – for example, “I’ll be back in 30 minutes – that’s as long as Play School lasts”.
ALWAYS return at the expected time.
Over time your child will learn that no matter what you will always return, this will give them a great sense of trust and ease their anxiety.
Gradually increase the time you leave your little one to one hour and then two, which is the usual length of the first few kindy sessions.
If separation is a problem, leave something of yours with your child (like a favourite shirt that smells like you) so they know you will come back! (Try to avoid sending your child with a special toy because when they do go to kindy this item will need to stay in the kindy bag.)
If you think separation is a problem don’t worry too much. I know many kindy children who never separated from their parents before but the moment they took one look at all the activities, puzzles, games, books – they were off before their parents could even say goodbye!
Just remember, always remain enthusiastic about kindy even when they insist they don’t want to go. And don’t get too stressed – just roll with things and keep as positive about the experience as you can.
Some parents celebrate this milestone with a smile on their face. Others, however, might be feeling a bit grim (especially if it’s your baby starting kindy!).
Which leads me to some nice things to do with your new ‘freedom’ especially if you are a little sad about your baby growing up.
Enjoy coffee with a friend, go to an exercise class, shop in peace, clean the house without interruptions, get out in the garden or indulge in a long, relaxing bath.
There may be a new community group or work opportunities to look at and last, but not least, print off those digital images and get the baby album in order …
When your child does settle into kindy, you’ll be glad you gave them the skills to deal with large groups of children by regularly attending playgroup!
Yes, playgroup is a wonderful stepping stone between having a baby at home with you and being confident to head off to kindy.
If you’d like to speak with one of our Development Officer’s to discuss more ways to help your child transition from playgroup to school call our Hotline on 1800 171 882. Visit our Enhanced Transition to Schools Project page to find out more about linking playgroup to your local school!