I’d love your advice. Our daughter is about to start kindergarten. Not sure how that affected you, but I can’t help but be a bit anxious. Clearly transitions like this are important milestones for children to learn and grow. I know she’ll be fine, but it’s hard not to worry about all the things that will now be out of our control.
I asked for advice from some of my parent friends and jotted down their tips. I’d LOVE any suggestions you might add about how to help smooth our daughter’s transition to her first all day school. Here are some of the common advice many of my friends had. What else would you add?
How parents can help:
- Be enthusiastic about the upcoming change. If you are excited and confident, your child will be, too. Our daughter is quick to pick up on my wife’s and my moods (do all kids do that?), and I want to be sure any anxiety I may have about her starting school is as invisible to her as possible.
- Build familiarity with the school and teacher. If possible, visit the new school together before school starts. Also, try to introduce your child to the new teacher in advance if you can. We were lucky that my daughter and I met her teacher during school registration, and they hit it off.
- Arrange a play date with another child from the school, preferably one-on-one, so your child will see a familiar face on that first day. I heard this one from several parents, and sure understand how this might help. I was a bit of a shy kid, and knowing someone really helped me.
- Start daily routines that will build continuity. Let your child become involved with packing lunch or laying out clothes. Also, begin an earlier bedtime several weeks before. We’ve been slowly shifting our daughter’s bedtime. It’s a no brainer that good rest contributes to a better mood and focus.
- Put aside extra time, particularly on the first day of school. It would be easy to become rushed on that first morning, but try to keep things relaxed, and make some time to chat. That said, remember not to drag-out the goodbye. If your child whines or clings, staying will only make it harder.
- Always say goodbye to your child. Be firm but friendly about separating. I hope It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, never ridicule a child for crying. Instead, be understanding, “I know it’s hard to say goodbye sometimes, but remember all the fun things we talked about.”
- Be there for them at the end of the day. I don’t know about you, but it’s sometimes hard to make that transition from work to home. Let’s make a concerted effort to put aside thoughts about work, and focus on being present as a parent, especially as they make this transition to school.
What suggestions do you have for parents of kindergarteners?