What Happens after Kindergarten Graduation?

After the kindergarten graduation pictures are taken, leis are given, and hard work for a momentous occasion is celebrated, what happens next? Let’s just pause for a minute and reflect before looking forward. Can they get any more adorable than being in their graduation caps and gowns? Their smiles just melt your heart. To see how tall they have grown causes you to realize that they are growing up too quickly. To hear them read allows you to see how much they are learning. To watch them communicate and collaborate with friends provides you snapshots into their budding social lives. To hear them pray often moves you to tears knowing how much they love Jesus, their family, friends, classmates, and pets. These are the moments to capture and treasure.Two years ago, I took my first grade class to cheer on Hanalani’s kindergarten graduates. As I was clapping, smiling, and soaking in God’s goodness through the little lives all around me, it dawned on me that these families are wondering what happens next. How do I best prepare my child for first grade? What can I expect for the brand new school year?
First grade at Hanalani’s Lower School (Elementary School) will be a time to create many more exciting memories.  The jump from kindergarten to first grade is special because students are able to make more choices independently. For example, students learn how to select their school lunch from two main entrees. Our lunch program is like a mini restaurant in their minds. Secondly, moving into first grade makes them no longer feel so little which results in leadership opportunities. They are the BIG kids around the kindergarten students. Our first grade students are able to fill the “big kid spots” by participating in our Storybook Parade, Lower School Thanksgiving program, and weekly chapel services with our kindergarten classes.  Lastly, the first grade students are given opportunities to demonstrate their learning through various assessments.  Spelling tests are introduced and used as a tool to assess phonics skills in isolation and in context.  First grade “mathematicians” display their understanding of math concepts by drawing on their desks with whiteboard markers. Shhh….don’t tell that we write on the desks! They also use hands-on manipulatives and iPad’s to demonstrate their awesome learning.  We desire to always have fun while learning independently, with partners, in small collaborative groups, or as an entire first grade class.
Now that you know what exciting moments are ahead for your child, you may be wondering,
“How do I best prepare my child for first grade and continue to support him throughout his first grade year and beyond?”  The best advice I can give is to start using small opportunities to allow your child to practice skills independently.  Turn unpacking and packing up a backpack during those morning and evening routines into a game. Set a timer with a reasonable amount of time and have your child “Race the Clock.”  See if they can independently complete a multi-step process before the time on the clock runs out. Give little incentives and words of praise along the way. Acknowledge that you value what a great job your child can do on his own. You can also support your child’s success with homework. Create a special place for your child to work on his assignments. Go over the directions, ask if he has any questions, and then praise him in advance for the excellent work that you are excited to see him demonstrate.  Next create a few minutes for your child to work independently on the task. Do a mid-check point to encourage what your child is doing well and ask if he needs any help. The key for independence with homework is to allow your child to make mistakes. Allow for failure. We all learn through our mistakes. Working independently allows your child to take ownership of his learning.  
Exciting moments are created after kindergarten graduation.  Fasten your seatbelt because your little “BIG” kid is growing up! As a first grade team, we are excited to welcome your K5 graduate into our classrooms that are centered on Loving God, Loving Others, and Challenging Ourselves.