You can help your child make a smooth transition from home or preschool to kindergarten,” says Andrea Atkinson, a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children whose members include teachers, administrators, parents, policymakers, and others committed to bringing high-quality early education and care to all young children.
To help ease your child’s concerns about going to kindergarten, talk with him about some of the fun things that will happen at school, such as meeting new friends, listening to stories, and playing outside. “Kindergarten is a big name, a big place, and there are a lot of big kids,” adds Atkinson. “Be positive about the experience, but if your child has questions, answer them as honestly as you can. Try not to make a big to-do about it.”
Some of the most common questions children ask about kindergarten are, “Why can’t I stay at my old school?” or “Why can’t I stay at home?” Other questions might include, “What kind of toys will my kindergarten room have?” “Will there be time to play?” “Who is going to be in my class?”
It’s important for parents to take their child’s fears and anxieties seriously. Children need to know that they have support, that they can share their feelings and ask questions, and that someone is there to comfort them.
“My daughter was so nervous about starting kindergarten this year that I decided she needed to hear from someone close to her age about what really happens at school,” says the parent of a kindergartner. “The little girl who lives up the street is in first grade this year, so my daughter asked her about kindergarten and was able to get ‘real’ answers to her questions—and she felt much more confident and excited about going to school this year.”
Here are some tips designed to help ease the transition from home or preschool to kindergarten. Use your child’s questions and individual temperament as a gauge when deciding which and how many of the following suggestions to try before the big day. For particularly anxious children, too many pre-kindergarten activities may only increase their concerns.