With the end of summer comes the start of the school year, an anxiety-inducing time for kids and parents alike. You may feel especially nervous if your child is going to school for the first time. Instead of letting that worry overwhelm you, view the experience as a new, fun adventure that’ll benefit your child in the long run. Understand how your child is feeling at this time by communicating with them effectively, following a few easy tips.
1. Take Them Shopping for Supplies
Shopping for school supplies with your child will give them some creative control with their transition. Of course, you’ll need to make sure they don’t go overboard, but it’s easy enough to let them choose the colors and designs they want. Your child will glow at the prospect of showing off their new crayons, folders and other items to their classmates.
As for the supplies you’ll have to buy, most schools provide a list of what students require weeks in advance. Follow that checklist to secure everything your child needs.
2. Show Interest in Their Schooling
When your child comes home from school, ask them open-ended questions about what they did and how it made them feel. Start with simple but specific inquiries, as your child may not know where to begin. If they tell you their first day wasn’t great, brainstorm strategies for having a better day tomorrow. Let them know that this is just one day. It’s okay not to feel ecstatic, but they still have many days ahead full of exciting and fun opportunities.
Record all their achievements as they happen — since there’ll be a lot of them as the school year continues. Attend as many school events as you can, and build friendly, open relationships with your child’s teachers. Teachers appreciate involved parents, and you’ll gain peace of mind by knowing your child is adjusting well to school life.
3. Set Up Playdates With Other Kids
If possible, find out who your child’s classmates are and set up playdates with them before school starts. These gatherings encourage everyone to get to know each other, and you’ll meet other parents in the process. Some schools create programs specifically for playdates, so check if your child’s school is one of them. If you host the meetups yourself, be aware of common playdate rules and etiquette.
Of course, there’s no rulebook stating these tips are mandatory, but guidance on fostering mutual respect and kindness will help.
4. Encourage Respectful Behavior
Before your child starts their first day of school, you should prepare them mentally and emotionally for the experience. Teach them how to share with other children and the correct way to respond to conflict. Be sure to approach the topic of bullying, even if you don’t do an in-depth talk just yet. Kindergartners deal with it too, and it helps to know what to do if it happens. You should also encourage them to respect others and avoid mean joking or teasing.
Help them practice reading, writing and counting so they’ll already have some familiarity these subjects when school begins. Children learn many new subjects in kindergarten, and you want to familiarize yourself with these topics so you can introduce them ahead of time. Keep doing this during the school year by building upon the things they discover in class. Read aloud to them or encourage to them count objects around the house.
5. Roleplay the First Day of School
Use dolls or puppets to roleplay your child’s first day of kindergarten. They can play the central character or designate one of their toys to take the role of a new kindergartner. Act out each part of the day and what they think will happen, then ask how it makes them feel. Practice responding to different situations, such as what should they do if they get nervous after you leave? How should they go about making new friends?
After roleplaying, give them some feedback on things they did well or could do differently. By providing them with helpful coping strategies, you ensure a confident transition to kindergarten.
6. Ask Them About Their Fears
Let your child talk about their emotions so you can understand how they feel. Even if they say they aren’t nervous about their first day, you can still give them advice on how to navigate these unfamiliar waters. Reassure them in a way that both acknowledges their apprehension and soothes it. Remember that you’re viewing their situation from an outside perspective, and never discount their fears because they don’t seem significant to you.
As a general rule, you shouldn’t force them to talk before they’re ready. If your child doesn’t express their fear of kindergarten directly, watch for signs that they’re ready to talk, like changes in behavior.
Start the School Year on the Right Foot
Help your child adjust to their new world by following these six useful suggestions. When their fears about kindergarten dissipate, yours will too.
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