Preparing for Kindergarten

Arts and Education, Growth and Development

The transition from being at home or daycare to attending kindergarten can be a challenge for parents and child alike. Parents may be unsure if their child is ready. Children may be nervous about attending school, particularly since it represents a new experience in their lives. Here are some tips for helping your child make a smooth transition to kindergarten.

Positive attitude. Parents should project a positive attitude. Talk about the fun that the child is going to have and how he or she will make new friends. In addition, parents should talk about the teacher in a positive way, so that the child starts to look forward to the relationship.

Answer questions. In many instances, children may have questions about kindergarten. To the best of their ability, parents should answer these questions honestly so that the child is assured that their concerns are being addressed. According to the Dr. Ruth Peters, the late clinical psychologist and author who specialized in treating children and adolescents during her nearly 30-year career, these questions can include inquiries about everything from bathroom locations to relationships with classmates. Undoubtedly, there may be questions that the parent cannot answer, but they can at least tell the child that they will explore answers to their questions.

Make a visit. Depending on the school system, there may be opportunities to visit a kindergarten classroom prior to starting as a student. This can be a positive way for the child to get a preview of what he or she going to experience. If possible, it may also be wise to connect the student with the teacher so that the child is able to put a face to the position.

Similar experiences. For some children, there may be an existing frame of reference. If children have attended preschool, they may already be familiar with the school environment. Or if the child has been at daycare, he or she may understand the concept of being in a social environment without their parents. When describing kindergarten, the parents may reference these prior experiences or perhaps a class that the child might have taken in a community setting.

Dealing with the present. There is certainly value in preparing for uncertain reactions, and parents should not be naive to the reality that their child may not make a smooth transition. However, it may not benefit the parent or the child to fret about something that has yet to occur. The best approach is to be prepared for some challenges but to deal with them as they come, rather than experience a great deal of stress before the year even begins.

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