Your child’s first day of kindergarten can be full of emotion and anxiety—and that’s just for parents. Many 5- and 6-year-olds starting school will be understandably nervous, but you can calm their fears with the right preparation. Here’s how to help children get ready:
• Talk ahead of time. Tell your child what to expect: What school is like, what he or she will learn, and so forth. The better they know what’s waiting for them, the more comfortable your children will be.
• Work on the basics. The atmosphere in kindergarten may be loose, but it’s still an adjustment for a young child. Practice things like sitting still for 15 minutes at a time and focusing on one task, sharing, and following simple instructions. Read to your children. Review their numbers, the alphabet, and other things they’ll be expected to know.
• Go over the route. Walk or drive the route your child will take to school so he or she can become familiar with the sights and the experience of coming and going.
• Visit the school. If possible, take your child to school ahead of time. Visit the classroom, meet the teacher, and show him or her what school will be like.
• Deal with fears. Listen to your kids when they talk about what they’re afraid of. Don’t dismiss their fears; reassure them, and talk about coping strategies for possible problems (where to wait if you’re late picking them up, for instance).
• Give them a token. Let your child bring something from home in the beginning so he or she doesn’t feel completely lost in a new environment. Something small to look at, like a picture of a parent, can help children feel comforted in new surroundings.