Last week we talked about how we establish routines for our Kindergarten class and why they are so important for your child’s sense of security and familiarity at school.
Parents are always so pleased to hear how well their children are managing in Kindergarten. We attribute that to the classroom routines. Because the children are so successful with them at school, if you haven’t already set up your routines, here are some you might consider for home.
Preparing for School the Day Before
We’ve learned not only for ourselves, but for our own kids, the importance of starting to prepare for school the afternoon or evening before. Although this may not seem as relevant right now with a Kindergarten child, as your children move through the grades it will make a huge difference to them (and you).
When your children are leaving for early morning classes, and have a sports team practice or club meeting after school, they will need a lot of things to bring with them on a daily basis. It’s more than just their lunch: it’s homework, uniforms, text books…the list could go on and on.
Helping your children while they are young to review their next day’s schedule, and to gather all the belongings they need the night before, is teaching them how to plan and to be prepared. Together, you are creating a foundation of good habits and organization so that one day your children can be independent and do this for themselves.
For your Kindergarten child, the late afternoon or evening routine might look like this:
- you, or you and your child, prepare the next day’s snacks and lunch together
- your Kindergarten child can help to select the snacks, wash the fruit or veggies, butter the bread for a sandwich
- pack food that does not need to be refrigerated, and any utensils, in the lunch kit
- water bottle is clean and ready to be filled
- library book
- forms to be returned
- homework calendar
- sharing (if it’s your turn)
- popcorn money
- extra change of clothes
- indoor runners if it’s raining
- ice-skating with your class? You’ll need you skates, snow pants, gloves and helmet packed in a separate bag, and a pocket snack
You can show your child how to neatly organize all of the items needed for the next day in his or her backpack; take advantage of the multiple compartments and pack food items separately from papers and books. Who doesn’t love a well-organized bag to take to work or school? Then, place the backpack beside the door so all that’s left to do is add your child’s lunch and water bottle in the morning.
Establishing the bedtime routine is important: the children need to get enough rest each night to stay healthy. When the children are sleeping they are growing, and when they have enough sleep they awake feeling fresh and ready for school the next day.
As parents, we all want and need our own time to relax. However, it is a commitment upon us, as parents, to be consistent with the bedtime routine. Sometimes, we may need to delay our own gratification of the things we wish to do, so that we can be at home and putting our children to bed on time.
For your Kindergarten child, the bedtime routine might look like this:
- bathe children
- choose clothes for the next day
- sometimes another small snack
- teeth brushing
- bedtime read aloud (parents reading to the children) and cuddles (lots)
- time for bed–the children, that is!
The morning start, even on a school day, can be a relaxed and easy affair with the right amount of preparation from the prior evening.
There is no doubt you will need to supervise the morning routine. Let’s face it: the children are five or six-years old, and we are all distractible in our own way. Left to their own devices the children could have decided, while still in their pyjamas, to start the greatest Lego castle ever but that doesn’t help with getting to school on time.
For your Kindergarten child, the morning routine may look like this:
- change into school clothes
- brush teeth, wash face and brush hair
- put lunch kit and water bottle into backpack
- coat and shoes to head out the door
The last point to consider is this: what do the children do if they are ready early, and waiting to leave home for school?
A transition activity from the time of getting ready to heading out the door might be something to think about. Each child is different, so activities could range from reading a book to shooting pucks into a net in the basement. The most important factor would be that the children know that when it’s time to leave, they must stop what they are doing.
The key to creating and establishing routines is time, practice, consistency and persistence. Every family develops their own routines, and adjusts them as the children grow older. For the Kindergarten child, and for ourselves as professionals in the workplace, a smooth start in the morning sets the tone for a good day at school.