Ah, Spring! The flowers are blooming, the weather is warming, birds are returning from migrations- it can mean only one thing in the Green Room- the Kindergarten Crazies are eminent!
The Kindergarten Crazies is a strange phenomenon that happens every year about the end of March. Something happens to the oldest preschoolers in my room, they begin to change in weird ways. Emotions run high, kids that were calm and cool begin to lose their cool without a seconds warning, and teachers who are caught off guard run the risk of catching a case of the crazies themselves! What do you do???
Though there is no known cure for the crazies (besides going off to Kindergarten which is months away) there is hope! First, why do they get the Crazies? Lots of different reasons but here are the top two.
1) They’re worried. They probably just figured out that the group of children they have been with for up to 2 years is not going to follow them to Kindergarten. Wow, mind blown? You bet! And not just the children they have been attached to, the teachers as well. It’s a heavy load to bear, put yourself in their place. What if you were asked to uproot and move from a place you’ve identified with for, essentially, half your life? That’s scary! It’s a big sense of loss and lack of control.
2) They're bored. No offense, but they're growing a bit listless of you. I happen to be a parent of one of these kids and can tell you from a home perspective and a teacher perspective that there are major behavior shifts when a child gets bored. They find new, often inappropriate ways to entertain themselves. They challenge their parents and teachers to a battle of control. Sometimes it looks like not listening (they’ve heard THAT line for two years now- what else you got?) These kids need some new attention and will come up with new ways to get attention- and you may not like what they have planned!
Okay, okay, don’t get me wrong, not all kids get the KC’s. In fact there are many that sail through, keep themselves occupied, and make a smooth transition into Kindergarten. Give yourself a pat on the back! But what about those who are beyond ready for Kindergarten? I have a few ideas:
1) Playdates! If you are in a district with several elementary schools, see if you can get a list of who is going to what schools. They may not be in the same class, but having playdates and building relationships with those they may still see on a regular basis after preschool can bring a sense of support.
2) Have open discussions about Kindergarten. What do you think it will be like? I know of one class that does field trips to the playgrounds of every elementary school in the area BEFORE kindergarten visits begin! You can also invite a kindergarten teacher to visit (if you can convince them to take a morning of spring break to do so) and answer questions of the kids directly. If the kids have already had their kindergarten visits, encourage them to share about their experiences with the other kids.
3) Have heart to heart chats. Perhaps you will be able to figure out just what exactly is worrying our little friends. Maybe they are scared of the bus ride. Maybe they are worried they won’t know how to get to their classroom. Offering reassurance and affirmations can do a world of good.
4) For the bored friends, find some new responsibilities. I had one girl that I noticed enjoying time with the younger children and she had just learned how to read. I talked with the teachers of the toddler room and made time for her to visit and read to the toddlers. This sense of responsibility did wonders for her self esteem and kept her mind off her worries.
Getting ready for Kindergarten is a great rite of passage for our students. They do need lots of love as they prepare for this huge leap into the world of “big kids.” I used to dread the KC’s, but now I have come to embrace them as it gives me one last chance to make a bond with my students and to help them realize how wonderful they are. Best of luck to the Greenies of 2012, you’re going to be AWESOME!!!