I teach kindergartners and around this time of year, my kids begin to talk about an exciting event – going to first grade. All kids are excited about being in an older grade, but the jump from kindergarten to first grade is a key transition. Here are a couple of things we do to help make that transition smooth.
We adjust our schedule in the classroom. In our kindergarten class, we use lots of exploring and hands-on teaching. We use learning centers for the large portion of our teaching time, with a group learning time of about 15-20 minutes. Around April or May, we adjust our schedule and teaching methods. We still have hands-on teaching, but we have a shorter activity time and a longer group learning time. Then we have a few activities after group time to apply the learning. This is similar to the first grade classroom. We also plan more activities that use group games and fewer activities with blocks or homeliving accessories. While our classroom is still focused on kindergartners, we begin to mirror what our kids will experience when they move up.
We give Bibles to our kindergartners/new first graders. In the first grade classroom, kids use their own Bibles much more than we do in the kindergarten classroom. In our class, we have Bibles throughout the classroom and use those. In the first grade classroom, kids find verses in their own Bibles. So our church gives each kindergartner a Bible to use. We give the Illustrated Study Bible for Kids since our teaching resources use the HCSB version. The Illustrated Study Bible for Kids also has references and helps specifically for children to use. We also expand our talk about Bible references and what they mean (book, chapter, verse). We talk more about Old Testament, New Testament, and Bible book names. These concepts are important foundations for future Bible skills.
Your church may have another transition point – worship service. Kids will begin to attend worship service with their parents or attend a children’s worship sometime in the older preschool or kindergarten years. Churches can also help with this transition. In my church, when children move to kindergarten, they begin to attend worship service with their parents. We have a lunch for parents and kids before they begin attending worship service together. After eating, they have a scavenger hunt in the worship center (to find and look at different things in it). Kids receive a worship bag and a notebook for their worship guides they get each week. They meet the staff members and learn more about what they do. On the first day they are in worship service, each child wears a "I’m a New Kid in Worship" sticker and is recognized by the pastor. If your pre-kindergartners or kindergartners are moving to a children’s worship service, you can offer a similar "orientation" and recognition time.
(You can also give parents a copy of When I Go to Church, a resource to help the transition of attending worship service with their children.)
How do you help your kids make the transition from kindergarten to first grade?