Anticipation about starting kindergarten followed a similar path for all three of my children. They couldn’t wait to be “big kids,” and talk about how excited they were for “the big day” filled our summer. That is, until about a week before school started.
“What if I don’t make friends?” “Will my teacher be nice?” “What if I miss you?”
The transition to kindergarten – either from preschool or home – is a significant milestone for both children and parents. For a child, it’s the excitement about being “big.” For parents, it’s the bittersweet realization that their child is now “big.”
Planning ahead and staying positive can help ease the transition for both of you. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Make a big deal about kindergarten. Create a calendar counting down the days. Plan a special “first day of school” breakfast. Talk about the things your child will learn.
Plan a visit. If your child is anxious about starting kindergarten, visit the school. If possible, visit your child’s classroom so they know what it looks like. Help your child find the bathroom, see where he/she will put their belongings, and see what the playground looks like. It’s not so scary when you’re going to a place that is familiar.
Talk it out. Ask your child if they have questions about going to kindergarten. Be honest in your answers. Avoid planting ideas in their head by asking, “Are you worried about going to school?” Instead, ask how they feel about going to school, and share a story about when you did something new, how you felt and that it ended up being OK.
Put on a brave face. It’s not easy to watch our young children head off to the big world of school. But they will pick up on any anxiety you have about the transition, and they will mirror your behavior. Practice what you will say to your child and how you will stay calm. Try your best to keep from “losing it” until you are out of their sight.
Stay the course. Prepare yourself that your child may be initially upset at separating from you. Be consistent, calm and optimistic. Eventually, your child will adjust to the routine and separation will become easier.
Read “Tips for Easing Transition to Kindergarten” at Parent Talk Corner
Transition to Kindergarten Parent Guides: How Can I Help My Child Ease Those First Day Jitters? Education.com
First Day Blues at Kindergarten: Family.go.com