Starting kindergarten is a huge milestone for parents and children. Transitioning to kindergarten can be both exciting and terrifying for little ones.
Kindergarten is a big deal
Kids often have a mixture of emotions when starting kindergarten. They are excited about “getting big” and attending kindgarten, especially when they have an older sibling already in school.
At the same time, they might feel nervous, anxious, or scared about the big change and all of uncertainty of starting kindergarten.
- They are venturing into an unfamiliar place. A lot of kids transitioning to kindergarten have attended some sort of preschool. However, kindergarten is often at the “big school”.
- They are leaving their comfort person, whether it’s mom, dad, grandma, daycare provider, or someone else. They will be surrounded by people they do not know.
- They will be adjusting to a new schedules and routines. This will be the first time most kids will attend school every day and most often all day. They will be eating lunch at school.
- They will be experiencing new things, such as riding the bus and interacting wit the “bigger” kids at recess.
Most important step
Start off by acknowledging and validating your child’s feelings and concerns.
“Starting a new school can be scary.”
“I know you are nervous about having a new teacher and making new friends.”
You may know that it is going to be okay, but they don’t. Tell them it is okay to be scared or worried and that many of their classmates will be as well. Offer reassurance that each day they will feel better.
Not only are you helping him/her to let go of those emotions by being understood, but you also are:
- teaching him/her that it is okay to feel that way
- helping your child identify and name their feelings
- teaching them to have empathy others
After validating your child’s feelings, discuss ways you can support your child as they prepare for kindergarten. Here’s a list of ideas to get you started.
Help your child prepare for kindergarten
- Host play dates with classmates prior to school starting. Don’t know anyone who will be starting school with your child, ask neighbors. If you have a community pool and/or park, visit them this summer. Chances are your child might start playing with someone who will be in his/her class.
- Visit the school prior to the first day. Take a tour a of the school, see the classroom, and meet the teacher. Some schools offer kindergarten orientation or meet the teacher day.
- Join forces with another mom and take turns watching each other’s child. This will get your child used to being away from you and having someone else watch over them.
- Take your child school supply shopping. Shopping with kids is not usually high on anyone’s list, but kids at this age still enjoy shopping for their school supplies. They like to help pick out their backpack, crayons, paints, etc.
- Role play school at home. Guide their play, teaching your child what their day might be like and what can activities they may participate in while at school. Children at this age express themselves best through play.
- Make (or buy) a small gift and/or card for their teacher. Many young kids get excited about giving gifts to others. This will help them form an initial connection with the teacher. Here’s a couple you might like: Take Note Teacher Gift || Colorful Year Teacher Gift
- Get kids excited by doing a kindergarten count down. Mark the days off on a calendar or make a chain and pull one off each day as the day gets closer to the start of school.
- Children thrive on routines. Routines offer children a a sense of security and control in handling their lives. Establish routines for nighttime, after school and morning prior to school starting that your child will follow throughout the school year.
- Read books about starting kindergarten. Starting kindergarten books can be found here.
You also might like:
- Ready for Kindegarten Bingo (free printable)
- 5 Ways to Save on School Supplies
- Back to School Supply List (free printable)
- Volunteer at Your Child’s School When You Have Little Time
- Back to School Tips for a Smooth Transition