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Kindergarten Readiness: Sensible Parenting Tips to Ease Transitions

07/12/2018 08:56AM ● Published by Digital Media Director

By: Kristi Miller, Sioux Falls Psychological Services

Your child may experience increased classroom structure, larger class size, peer changes, unfamiliar teachers, and interactions with older students. Excitement and nervousness are typical. Bittersweet feelings for children and parents often accompany major life transitions such as kindergarten.

Implementing a few simple strategies can enhance realistic expectations and a smoother transition for your child entering kindergarten.   

1.      Children’s books focusing on kindergarten adjustment are accessible. Reading about upcoming experiences is child friendly and typically more comfortable than direct conversation. Furthermore, you can share information and reconcile any misconceptions.   

2.      Introduce the school playground to your child.  Play equipment entices and may spark his/her interest in school.  Play on the equipment beforehand if possible.

3.      A particularly nervous child may benefit from visiting the school and classroom before other students are present. Communicate your child’s concerns to school staff and ask to schedule a time.

4.      Persuading your child out of his/her fears is usually unsuccessful. Listen to your child’s concerns without interrupting. Empathize and normalize nervousness while providing encouragement and reassurance.

5.      Provide opportunities to “play school” at home. Allow your child to direct the play.  You could observe or play along by following your child’s lead. Dolls, stuffed animals and puppets are options. 

6.       Some children seem extremely excited for their first day, yet may cry or resist attending a few days or weeks later. This isn’t unusual. Talk to your child’s teacher about ideas to assist.

7.      Parents feeling apprehensive about kindergarten may inquire about volunteer opportunities. Most schools appreciate help. 

8.      Implement your child’s nightly school routine gradually. A visible picture chart of night and morning school patterns can be of benefit.

Celebrate together on this notable day. Snap photos to capture the event. Give a quick reassuring hug and kiss at the classroom door and avoid lingering. Finally, spend a moment reflecting on your amazing child. Take a cleansing breath and shed those pressing tears.

If your child’s experience results in persistent negative behaviors or emotions, consider seeing and experienced child or family therapist. 

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