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Preparing for Kindergarten

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019

by Kristi Miller, MS

Your child attends Kindergarten this fall!  Along with seasonal changes, preschool preferences shift to school age inclinations. Glue bottles, multi colored markers, and super hero/princess backpacks are today’s essentials.  

Kindergarten age children act surprisingly grown up and yet endearingly immature.  Development throughout Kindergarten changes your child cognitively, socially, emotionally, and physically. This tends to occur gradually but noticeably throughout the school year.  Your child may experience increased classroom structure, larger class size, peer changes, unfamiliar teachers, and interactions with older students.  Excitement and nervousness are typical. Bittersweet feelings for child and parent often accompany major life transitions such as kindergarten.

Implementing a few simple strategies can enhance realistic expectations and a smoother transition for your child.    

  1. There are a number of excellent children’s books focused on kindergarten. Reading books about future experiences is child friendly and less threatening than direct conversation.
  2. Introduce the school playground to your child. Play equipment entices children and may spark their interest in school. Play on the equipment beforehand if possible.
  3. A particularly nervous child may benefit from visiting the school and classroom before other children are present. Communicate your child’s concerns to school staff and ask to schedule a time.
  4. Persuading your child out of his/her fears is usually unsuccessful. Listen to your child’s concerns without interrupting. Empathize and normalize nervousness. Provide encouragement and reassurance.
  5. Provide opportunities to “play school” at home. Allow your child to direct the play and observe or respond according to the child’s direction. Dolls, stuffed animals, or puppets are play options.  
  6.  Some children are immensely excited for Kindergarten to commence. However, they may suddenly cry or resist school after a few days or week. Talk to your child’s teacher about ideas to assist and adapt.
  7. Parents feeling apprehensive about kindergarten may consider volunteer opportunities in the classroom.  

Implementing these strategies, including a kiss and hug at the classroom door, may assist your child to successfully step out into a fulfilling kindergarten experience.