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Kindergarten Firsts: Fire Drills, Lock Down Drills and Tornado Drills

It’s that time of year: backpacks are filled with new crayons and pencils, new shoes and outfits have been selected and are ready to go. Along with back to school clothes and medical check-ups, Blog-Kindergarten-Firsts-Main-Landscapethere is another important detail to remember to address with your kindergartner, talking about fire drills, lock-down drills, and tornado drills.

For some children, the idea of fire trucks arriving at school is thrilling and having a break from their classroom to walk outside is a welcomed break. For other children, particularly children with sensitivity to loud noises or changes in routine, fire drills, lock-downs and tornado drills can trigger uncomfortable feelings and even panic. Unfortunately, safety drills are a part of life, but the good news is, there are steps you can take to help your child be prepared for them.

The first step in preparing your child for safety drills is to have a conversation, or several conversations, about them. Approach your child at a time of day when he/she is calm and broach the topic. You can introduce the topic by talking about how excited you are for your child to begin school, reminding him/her of the fun of meeting his/her teacher and seeing his classroom. Next, talk about a variety of things he/she will learn about, like animals, letters and numbers. Then, mention that you want to tell him/her about something that teachers and students learn about and practice so that they are prepared in all situations. Explain that drills are routines that teach them steps to do to keep them safe in case of a fire at school or an unsafe person, or unsafe weather.

You will want to keep the language you use very simple and non-threatening. Emphasize that schools are very safe places and that these routines are practiced because “practice makes perfect;” and that practicing the drills will help them remember the instructions that will keep them safe and keep them calm. If your child has sensitivity to loud noises or changes in routine, you will want to alert your child’s teacher before school begins.

Finally, remember to use calm and reassuring words as you discuss the drills, reinforcing the idea that teachers and staff are trained and that schools are strong and sturdy. If you feel your child may need additional support or reassurance, notify your school principal and your child’s teacher. Remember that North Shore Pediatric Therapy’s services provide counseling and can address persistent worries or other concerns.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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the transition from preschool to kindergarten

The Transition from Preschool to Kindergarten: What Every Parent Should Know

The transition form preschool to Kindergarten is one of the first big steps a young child takes in his academic career.

As a parent, you may be wondering what the main differences are between the preschoolThe Transition from Preschool to Kindergarten and kindergarten setting and how to best equip your child for these changes. Although the change in environment reflects just a chronological year of advancement, the expectations are vastly different.

What to Expect in Preschool:

  • Children are able to expand their play to incorporate peers and develop the skills necessary to gain a greater sense of self and those around them. This might be the first time children are expected to engage with peers, follow directions, and adhere to structure.
  • Offers more play-based interventions and structured unstructured time (free play, art time where the child can choose what they want do).
  • Children learn to focus, share, take turns, and listen while others speak.
  • Language and cognitive skills emerge and strengthen.

What to Expect in Kindergarten:

  • The expectation is that the child can endure increased structure and will be able to write, utilize proper pencil grip, and engage in rote counting.
  • There is an emphasis on increased child independence as the student becomes more responsible over his choices.
  • Children are expected to implement peer problem-solving to avoid tattling and to enhance conflict resolution strategies.
  • Implementation of self-help and self-advocacy skills are expected.
  • In some cases, the length of the school day is longer.

To prepare your child for Kindergarten, utilize these strategies to create a smooth transition:

  • Explore new activities as a family to help your child adjust to change. This will help him to be okay with experiencing the unknown.
  • Read to your child for 20 minutes a day to foster listening and focusing skills.
  • Use consistent routines and disciplinary methods to get the child familiar with the fixed systems in the school setting (i.e. understand expectations and how to modify behavior).
  • Teach child independence through child-friendly clothing (pick out clothes), toileting independence, and setting the expectation that the child will put away toys and coats regularly.


Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

When Should You Hold Your Child Back A Grade?

Many parents are often worried and cautious about their child’s transition from kindergarten to first grade. There are unanswered kindergarten kidsquestions and concerns that the child faces. Oftentimes it may prove beneficial for the child to repeat kindergarten and have another year to develop pre-academic and social skills.

Questions that need to be kept in mind when deciding about holding the child back or moving him or her forward include:

  1. How is your child doing with learning basic academic skills? Is he or she learning all letters, letter sounds, numbers, etc? Is this an area that would need further guidance and assistance?
  2. How is the child doing socially and emotionally? Is your child able to transition readily from the house to the school environment? Does your child have friends and engage in appropriate play with others? How does your child deal with changes in routine?
  3. When is your child’s birthday? If it is a late birthday, holding him or her back might not be that major since he or she will not be much older than the rest of the class.
  4. What are the kindergarten teacher’s thoughts? She has the best opportunity to provide insight about your child’s learning styles and social functioning in comparison to same age peers.
  5. What are your thoughts as parent? Always remember that at the end of the day, you are your child’s best advocate.

Holding a child back in kindergarten is not the worst thing to possibly happen. The child has another year to mature and develop. In addition, the child is able to receive additional intervention and services in order to catch up with peers and ensure that first grade will be the utmost success. Remember, pay now or pay later. If things are pointing to next year being tough and him or her not being ready, don’t rush. It’s great to be mature for your grade.

Loop, Swoop, and Pull! Teaching Shoe Tying

Learning to tie shoes can be an exciting milestone for a child; however, teaching your child to tie their shoes can feel very daunting! Here are some tips to make it a littler easier and much less stressful.

Tips for making shoe tying a little easier

  • Child's hands tying shoeTake your child’s lead to determine if they are ready to learn this new skill. Children typically have the coordination and dexterity to tie their shoes by the time they are going to preschool or kindergarten. This, however, is not a steadfast rule and some kids may be ready earlier and some later.
  • Find a time to practice when
    you are not rushing out the door. Before or after dinner or on the weekend might be a good time to sit down and practice.
  • Choose a method and break it down into steps. Whether you use the two loop or one loop method be sure to go step by step. Either method starts with making an “X” and then a knot. Sometimes this is a good place to stop. Have your child master these first two steps before moving on.
  • When you are demonstrating for your child make sure you are sitting beside or behind them so that they are watching from the correct angle rather than in front of them where they would have to mirror your movements.
  • A rhyme or story can help your child remember the steps to shoe tying. One of the best known and simple rhymes is “Loop, swoop, and pull.”
  • When you first begin, have your child practice with their shoe on the floor or on the table. Sometimes this is easier as they can get up close and see what they are doing. There are also books and dolls available that have laces for practice.
  • Praise them for each step that they master! A little encouragement goes a long way!