Preparing Children for Grade One

When it comes to our children’s education, entering the first grade represents a big milestone. Fortunately there are ways to ease the transition.

Grade one! It’s quite a milestone in a child’s life…and a parent’s! For some children, grade one marks the first time they’ll be away from home for an entire day. It also marks the beginning of formal education where days are more structured. So how do children react to this new stage in life? According to retired education professor Margie Mayfield, their reactions are as varied as the children themselves. “Some children are very self assured and get out of the car, bid goodbye to you and that’s it. Other children are much more tentative, not wanting to leave Mom or Dad. Some children find large institutional buildings frightening and you may have to work on that.”

Dr. Mayfield says you can help your child prepare for the experience by not making “a big song and dance about this starting in May and crossing off how many days you have until grade one. It’s like doom approaching.” She adds it’s important that parents gets older siblings on side “because older siblings love to tease younger ones about how mean teachers are, and how awful it will be, and that the principal eats children for lunch.”

It’s important to remember too that “in many ways grade one isn’t quite the adjustment it once was and that the program isn’t all so different from kindergarten”, says education professor Dr. Allison Preece. “In many, many grade 1 classrooms, you’re going to see kindergarten-like approaches and settings, which is a very good thing. You’ll be looking at an active, much more participatory learning style going on. You might see children in grade one doing hands-on math activities; digging in a sand pit and measuring and weighing sand, and that could be the math curriculum in one of the richest and most imaginative ways.”

At home you can help support your young learner by arranging an area where they can put their school work and by keeping involved in your child’s school experience by discussing it every day. Dr. Preece says that by “communicating that you are interested in what they’re doing and learning, and that you think it matters, is probably the most important of all. And so what this requires is asking the child, after they’ve had a few minutes to themselves at home, about what’s going on and try to get their perspective on things.”


Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.

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