As of April 1, 2014, my children had 43 days left of this school year. And my Sam who is wrapping up his junior year has 218 school days left to complete high school. I’m not completely sure where the time has gone. It seems as if just yesterday I was putting him on the bus to the first day of kindergarten and next September I will watch him drive away to the first day of his senior year. College seems so overwhelming. If memory serves, kindergarten seemed overwhelming too.
The funny thing is, some of the things that I remember helping Sam think about as we were gearing up for the first day of kindergarten seem to be the same things we are thinking forward to with college.
Everywhere I turn I see ads for kindergarten registration for next school year. As classroom teachers I think it’s important for us to remember that not all families have a comfort level with what getting their child ready for school means. As professionals in the field, we can support our families by sharing some of what we know.
- Inform: As you hear your families talk about kindergarten registration, and even if you don’t, share information about events that are happening within the community.
- Encourage: Tell families how important visiting their child’s potential school can be. Help them think through questions they may ask and some of the differences that they may see.
- Investigate: Ask families where they plan to send their child to kindergarten. Talk about kindergarten in your classroom to help children feel excited about the changes that are coming.
- Connect: Sometimes it helps to have a partner along the way. If families are open to sharing information with one another, introduce them to each other so that they can bounce ideas off of one another about things related to kindergarten.
- Be positive: Transitions, especially big ones, for both adults and children can feel scary. Help both families and children see the fun possibilities that lie ahead.
- Communicate: Talk with other professionals about the skills necessary to help children be and feel successful as they move from preschool to kindergarten. Share those skills with families so they can reinforce them at home.
As I look at the next 251 school days until my Sam transitions to college, I know I have a lot of work ahead of me. It’s really not much different than the work of families preparing children for kindergarten. I need to make sure that Sam and I have the necessary information to choose a good college, just like parents need to choose a good kindergarten. I need to connect with other families who have children at the colleges he is interested in so we can get the scoop on deadlines and fun activities, just like parents who are getting ready to send their children to kindergarten. And most importantly, I need to connect with Sam and his teachers so that I can learn about anything extra I can do at home to support him as he transitions from high school to college.
As early childhood educators, I hope you’ll take time to share with your families and children the things they can do at home to prepare themselves and their children for what’s next. So twelve years later as they start the preparation for college, they can remember the work you did with them to prepare for kindergarten and not feel so overwhelmed.