With summer ending and school just around the corner, it is normal to feel a mix of excitement and nervousness. Especially if this is your child’s first time in a school setting. The good thing is that your child is about to embark on a new year in a Montessori environment, one that will foster their growth and learning, expand their social skills, and help them to develop a deeper sense of confidence and purpose.
There are many things you can do at home to prepare your child and your family for a smooth transition from home to school, but one of the most beneficial is in establishing routines.
Rhythm and Routine
Summer schedules can be a little crazy with vacations, outings, different caregivers, and family visits. Bedtimes get moved back and dinner times lose their consistency. Children crave routine and rhythm and consistency are a large part of the Montessori school experience. If you can get your child into the rhythm of school as summer comes to an end, then they will have a more successful adjustment.
When creating a bedtime routine be sure to think about what is reasonable in your home. Don’t add in too many steps that will be hard to follow through with on a regular basis. Think about what is feasible for your family. A good routine usually involves three or four steps such as taking a bath, brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, and reading a book. For young children, it is helpful to do these in the same order each night. Before you begin the routine start to prepare the house by turning off screens, turning down the volume of music, and perhaps dimming the lights. Most importantly be sure to start your routine with enough time so that your child can get the recommended amount of sleep.
|Age Group||Age||Recommended Hours of Sleep1,2|
|Infant||4-12 months||12-16 hours per 24 hours (including naps)|
|Toddler||1-2 years||11-14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)|
|Pre-School||3-5 years||10-13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)|
|School Age||6-12 years||9-12 hours per 24 hours|
For more information The Sleep Foundation has some great tips on creating healthy sleep routines for children.
Before school starts think about what will need to happen in your home to be ready for the day. Take note of how long it takes to do each task and use that to help guide you in planning a morning routine.
Involve your child by talking to them about what they will need to get ready for school, eat breakfast, get dressed, put on sunscreen, put on shoes, pack a lunch bag, and bring a hat. Create a space in your home at their level where they will keep those things and can independently put them away and retrieve them. In the bedroom a low shelf or drawer for clothing. In the bathroom, a basket on the floor for their towels, and bath toys. I like to have a basket by the door with each child’s name on it for school bags, shoes, and hat.
Start involving them in getting dressed each morning by giving them two to three appropriate options to choose from. Show them how to put their clothing on themselves and allow them the time needed to do so. When learning to dress it’s best to choose clothes that do not have difficult buttons, snaps, or other fasteners. Elastic is our friend!
For more tips on helping children learn to dress themselves: Helping Children Dress Themselves
Creating Opportunities for Independence
Montessori classrooms foster independence in children. You can support this before school starts by offering opportunities for your child to be independent at home. Maria Montessori said,
Never do for a child, what a child can do for themselves.
As you go through your day note how often you do for your child. Then choose three tasks that you can show them how to do for themselves. Some great ones to start with are, feeding themselves, dressing, combing hair, putting on shoes, and picking up their toys or books.
One of the biggest opportunities for independence is in learning how to use the bathroom on one’s own. Stay tuned for our next tips on Toilet Training!
Contributing to the Family
Children want to help and if you give them the opportunity to contribute to the family they feel a sense of value. One way to let them help is to establish household tasks or chores. At this age it is about setting up routines and following the process, not perfection. Here is a list of age appropriate chores for preschool.