There was a question posted on Mamapedia about how to help ease a child’s anxiety about starting kindergarten. As both a teacher and mother
of four school-age children, I know how stressful an experience the
start of elementary school can be. Here are some suggestions toward
helping kids (and parents) kick off kindergarten with confidence. Visit the school. A
summertime sneak preview of the school, kindergarten classrooms and
playground will help minimize fear of the unknown and make your child
more comfortable during her first days of school. Get into the Kindergarten Swing.
A week or so before the start of school, begin easing your child into
the school-year schedule. That way he'll be bright-eyed and
bushy-tailed on his first day. Play down your own mixed emotions. Rather
than rambling on about how you can't believe your baby is growing up,
emphasize how excited you are that she's going to kindergarten. Send a security object.
The promise of being able to bring a favorite blanket or picture of mom
and dad - albeit stashed safely out of sight in his backpack - will be
worth its weight in lunch money in building your rising
kindergartener's courage. Celebrate. Boost your
child's excitement about school with a special celebratory dinner the
night before he starts kindergarten. Use colorful school supplies to
decorate the table or the occasion. (Just don't go overboard on the
sugar!) Talk about your first-day-of-school experiences.
Psychologists believe that sharing family stories is one of the most
effective ways for parents to emotionally strengthen their children.
During your celebratory dinner, take turns sharing first day of
kindergarten stories. Ease into aftercare.
Many children's after school situations change with their entrance to
kindergarten. If your child will be attending a daycare program after
school, see if the facility offers a camp and enroll her there for a
week or so over the summer; that way she'll be settled when school
kicks off in the fall. If you'll be utilizing the school's aftercare
program, talk to your child about where she should go, who's in charge
and what to expect there. Make sure she has a familiar face at school.
Having at least one friend on the first day of kindergarten can make
all the difference to a child; so call the school over the summer, ask
for the names of a few of your child's future classmates, and arrange a
playdate or two. Read all about it. There's
nothing like an uplifting story about another kid in the same boat to
help build a rising kindergartener's confidence. Here are some worthy
choices. Annabelle Swift, Kindergartener by Amy Schwartz Kindergarten Rocks by Katie Davis Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing, Julie Durrell Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come! by Nancy Carlson The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn Find Your Place in the Kindergarten Circle: Truth
be told, even after our child is primed and ready for his elementary
debut, our work is not done. To the contrary, it's just begun.
Researchers have identified that the one factor constant in students
who do well in school is parent involvement. So volunteer in your
kindergartener's classroom; make sure he's geared and ready for school
each day; and make a promise to yourself - right now when your child is
still cute and baby-faced - to provide him with steady educational
guidance, unwavering moral support and occasional kicks in the behind
every single school day for the next thirteen years.
SHARON DUKE ESTROFF
Duke Estroff is an award-winning educator and author of "Can I Have a Cell Phone for Hanukkah? (Random House,
2007). Her parenting articles appear in over 100 publications including
Parents, Good Housekeeping, and Woman's Day. Her popular Undercover Mom Blog on Net Family News
gives digital immigrant parents timely, straightforward advice on raising digital native kids.