Kids & Parenting

How to start the kindergarten year

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The first day of kindergarten is exciting and terrifying
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Start the kindergarten year on the right foot

Kindergarten is a big deal.

No, it’s a HUGE, MONUMENTAL deal!

Even if your child has gone to nursery school and/or pre-K, the first day of kindergarten is different, special and important. Your child is officially a student, and he knows it. He is bidding adieu to his parents for an entire day.

It can be nerve-wracking for a five- or six-year-old to take this step, even if he is excited about it and looking forward to it. For those who would rather kick back at home with Mom, this can be a difficult transition.

Naturally, as a parent you want your child to start the kindergarten year on the right note. In fact, mom and dad may be a bit nervous too particularly if this is the first time they've sent a child off to kindergarten.

Parents have to engage in a bit of a balancing act. It is time for their child to experience independence from them; however, it is not only okay but beneficial to the child if a parent stays involved and is active in the PTO or as a classroom volunteer. You don’t have to shove the child all the way out of the nest. He may find it comforting and even something to be proud about if you volunteer for a few hours a week or serve as a chaperone on field trips.

Take your child shopping for school supplies and new clothes, which should get him into the groove, if he's a bit resistant about going to kindergarten. Be upbeat. Keep telling him how much he's going to enjoy this new experience.

If you had a difficult time in school, now is not the moment to share this with your child. Do not tell him how mean and horrible your teachers were or how you were an outcast or whatever the problem might have been. Be completely positive. Bolster his confidence and assure him that he’s going to enjoy school and will make lots of friends and learns all kinds of interesting things.

Before the start of the school year, visit the school. If possible, introduce him to his teacher. Show your child where his classroom is going to be. Show him the playground and cafeteria and explain to him where the bus, or you will pick him up after school. Let him explore and get familiar with the surroundings, so he’s not deluged with too much new stuff on the first day of school, when he may be feeling overwhelmed and scared.

With kindergarten, there is usually an orientation period and the children are brought in for a couple of hours, so they can meet their classmates and the teacher before the child is expected to come every day and stay all day long. This helps acclimate your child. It is also a good time for you, the parent, to meet the teacher and perhaps the school administrators, as well as the other parents and their children. You can get the lay of the land.

The first day is going to be hard for you, mom or dad. If your child starts whimpering, tearing up and clinging to you, give him a hug and a kiss and tell him he’s going to be just fine. Assure him that you will be there to pick him up at such and such time. Then hand him over to his teacher – she knows what she’s doing— and walk away. Yes, it’s hard and you may go sit in your car and cry like a baby, but it gets easier. He will adjust and adapt in time. Your child is in good hands.

If your child starts throwing fits, refusing to go to school, this is a problem, obviously. If your child is feeling insecure at school and can’t relate or attach to any of his classmates this may be the cause of his frustrations and refusal to go to school. The child may be having a difficult time functioning without you. All children are different. Some are quite mature and dependent at five or six years of age whereas others still need some coddling and reassurances that it’s going to be okay. 

In addition to talking to his teacher about the problems he is having adapting, spend even more time with your child and play school with him at home. Behave just as his teacher would: Tell him to stand in line and walk to the kitchen, for instance. Talk about numbers, colors, letters and shapes. Show him these items because kids like visuals.Get him a chalkboard. Pretend it is recess and let him go outside and play. Blow a whistle when recess is over and beckon him inside.

Remember to inquire about your child's day at school. Show him you are interested in what he is doing and learning. Keep the lines of communication open. Hopefully, if he is having any problems he will share them with you and you and he can discuss how to approach the issue.

Once again, take him to the school after hours or on a weekend and to the bus pick-up location and to the playground. The more accustomed to, and familiar with, these sites that he becomes the more likely he is going to calm down and go to school happily and not throw temper tantrums every day. 

Ask the teacher for her advice if you aren’t having any luck. She’s been through this before and she’s the expert. 

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