Moving On From Playgroup to Big School

little-boy-707815_1280While there are only 8 Saturdays left until Christmas, thousands of parents across WA are pre-occupied by another ticking time bomb … the count down to kindy 2017.

Whether it’s your first born, middle child or baby enjoying their last few weeks at playgroup before they head off to big school – here are some suggestions to help this exciting time run smoothly.

  1. Ask around at playgroup to see who is off to kindy next year. You can then organise a play date between the kids heading off to the same kindy and even get to know the parents better if they aren’t already a close friend.
  2. Phone the kindy you are interested in and ask for a tour and to meet the teacher. This opportunity often comes up towards the end of each year as schools plan for what’s to come.
  3. Allow your child to choose their bag, lunch box and hat (as required by the kindy).
  4. Physically hand over any hand-me-down item such as a bag from an older sibling saying, ‘This is now yours for kindy’. You’d be surprised at how comforting it is to receive an older sibling’s (or friend’s) school stuff.
  5. Practise getting yourself and your child organised for kindy with bag, fruit and other bits and pieces. It’s surprising how early kindy time is when you’re used to a later start at playgroup!

Tackling Separation Anxiety

If you haven’t separated from your child before, now may be the time to start practicing.

When you’re ready to leave, make sure that you always say goodbye even if your child gets upset.

Once the person you are leaving them with (another parent, grandmother or trusted babysitter) has your little one’s attention, for example in a game or fun activity, say goodbye and leave quickly.

Do tell your child when you will be coming back – for example, “in half an hour I’ll be back – that’s as long as Play School lasts”.

ALWAYS return at the expected time.

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 jumper 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.)

But if separation is a problem, don’t worry too much.

I know of some very confident kindy children who never separated from their parent before but got to kindy and took one look at all the activities, playdough, puzzles, home comer and said goodbye before their mum could get in the door!

Another good piece of advice is to roll with things and not get stressed (but remain enthusiastic about kindy in front of your child) when they insist they are not going to kindy.

Flying the nest

If it’s your first or middle child starting kindy – you’re probably celebrating this huge milestone with a smile on your face.

But if it’s your baby heading off to school – chances are you’ll be feeling a bit grim.

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 …

preschoolers-1191122_1280Kindy Time

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!

Kath is a mum of three who works part time and enjoys writing and catching up with other stressed out mums in her spare time. Usually she’s racing against the clock to make her boys (+ husband) arrive anywhere on time and feels quite the talented mother when two out of the three make it out of the house with shoes on!