By: Rebecca Michelsen, M.Ed., MCHES
Getting ready for kindergarten can be both an exciting time and anxious time in a child’s life. He may be excited because he is old enough to go to school, but he may be nervous about a lot of the unknowns that come with starting a new school. Here are some things that you can do to help ease your child’s transition into kindergarten
- Start practicing your school routine early.
A few weeks before the start of school, begin getting your child into a regular morning and bedtime routine. Start by pushing his bedtime up by 30 minutes and waking him up 30 minutes earlier each week until he is going to bed and getting up at the time he needs to for school.
Practice your morning routine before school starts. Visual schedules can be helpful for guiding children through their morning routine. Practicing and following a morning routine can make sure that no one feels rushed while trying to get out of the house on time. Click here for a sample morning routine.
- Read books about going to school.
Reading books like “Kindergarten Rocks” or other books about going to school are a great way to start a discussion with your child about going to school and some of the activities that may take place while he is at school. Reading books and talking about school may help ease some of his concerns; however, if you notice your child is becoming anxious as you talk about school, stop the conversation and try again at later time.
- Get him excited for school.
Take him shopping and let him help pick out some of his school supplies or a new school outfit. Then, give him a chance to try out and get comfortable with anything new he might have to use or wear for school (backpack, new shoes, nap mat, school uniform, etc.).
- Visit your child’s school and classroom before school starts.
If possible, arrange to visit your child’s school and classroom before school starts so he can familiarize himself with the school, meet his teacher and possibly even meet a few of his classmates. This can help him to feel more comfortable on his first day.
- Pack a comfort item.
Depending on what your child’s teacher will allow, you can pack a comfort item for your child. One of the easiest comfort items to pack is a small picture of your family. He can keep it in his back pack or cubby and look at it when he is feeling a little sad or needs a little comfort.
- Practice a good-bye routine and keep good-byes positive.
Talk with your child about how drop-off will happen at school and work together to come up with a simple, quick good-bye routine, such as a hug, kiss and special squeeze. Always make sure to say good-bye and never, ever sneak out of the room, as this can make separating from your child more difficult in the future. After saying good-bye to your child, walk away confidently and don’t linger, even if he is crying or pleading for you to come back.
As a parent, it can be difficult to say good-bye to your child as he reaches this next milestone in his life, but it is important to keep the good-bye positive and up-beat. Your child will be looking to you for cues on how to handle this situation. After you have said your good-byes and have left your child, it is okay to take a moment for yourself to reflect on your own feelings whether happy, sad or both.
- Set aside time to talk about their day.
At the end of the day, set aside some special uninterrupted time with your child. During this time you can talk about what happened during his day and do some nurturing activities together such as reading a book or playing a game.
What tips do you have to help ease your child’s transition into kindergarten?
Rebecca is the Community Outreach and Education Coordinator for the Kohl’s Building Blocks Program at Penfield Children’s Center. She is responsible for coordinating the Kohl’s Building Blocks Programs outreach initiatives and providing educational workshops for parents, professionals, educators and children.