Kindergarten is an exciting milestone in a child’s life, but for many it can also come with some fears and apprehension. Use the rest of the summer to get your child ready and excited for “big kid” school. The more you prep them the easier the transition will be.
Here are some tips to get your child ready for the learning and social environment and hopefully ease anxiety.
Talk. Talk about what new and thrilling things they will learn and see in school. If you know the schedule or what things are in the classroom you can tell your child about them. Will your child sit at a table or a desk? Maybe there are book bins and a reading corner. Will they have a cubby to put their things? Share stories with your child of when you were in kindergarten and how you felt. Make them feel like they can talk to you about all their questions or concerns.
Listen. Really listen to everything they say and how they say it. Some children may not be able to articulate their true feelings about school. If this is your child you can use toys to act out the first day of school. This type of role playing may give you a better idea of what they’re thinking. Encourage the conversation. Knowing they have someone to listen will help ease their fears.
Show enthusiasm. Let them know school is fun and exciting. Focus on the things you know your child will enjoy. Maybe it’s a special playground or technology time. Will there be an art or music class, maybe a class pet? Pull in older siblings to help talk about their fun experiences too.
Start a routine. Children thrive on consistency and need routines. This allows them to know what to predict. It also helps them feel safe. Use the weeks before the school year begins to set up your morning routine. Have your child help you plan. Do they want to get dressed or pack lunch first? You may even want to make a chart with pictures so your child can see what comes next. This is also a great time to curb the all-day snacking of summer and put them on the same snack and lunch schedule as school.
Set expectations. Even young children need to know what’s coming. Ask the teacher what a typical day will look like and talk about it at home. Most schools have an orientation for kindergarten. Use this time for your child to ask any questions they have. Meeting the teacher and knowing what is expected will help their transition tremendously.
Relax, think, and speak positive. Kids are perceptive and they hear EVERYTHING! If you sound anxious when you talk about school, they’ll learn to be anxious, too. Have a positive attitude and relax when talking about their new year at school. Children feed of a parent’s energy so try and speak positively yourself.
Vanessa Banks is Co-Founder of Kernel Creative Media and the marketing strategist for Sylvan Learning of Clifton Park and Albany. For more information, visit SylvanLearning.com.