Ease the Kindergarten Jitters
As the school year begins to wind down, teachers and parents might notice some changes in the behaviors of our preschoolers. Children may seem as if they are tired (which they are!) and begin acting out or displaying odd behaviors that were never part of their normal routine.
As is turns out, these are very normal behaviors that both Preschool and Junior Kindergarten teachers anticipate as the school year winds down. At this point in the school year teachers have usually covered their full curriculum and are now revisiting letters, numbers and writing dexterity. Naturally, there is going to be some mention about the school year coming to a close and students begin to recognize that their time in the classroom will be over soon. Can we get a drumroll for summer please?!...
As parents, we have nerves built up about how our children will do during the transition as they enter into Kindergarten but the thoughts going through our preschoolers minds are much less broad. Our preschoolers are thinking more specifically about their new school, what friends in their current class will be traveling to their new school with them...Questions like "I wonder if I will know anybody?" "What will my new classroom look like?" "Will my teacher like me?" are common place. They are thinking about who they will sit next to on the bus and are excited but nervous about uncharted territory and a new place that isn't so familiar.
Rest assured that while your child may be acting out, hundreds of little ones go through this transition each year and well...they survive! Not only do they survive the change, but they begin to thrive in ways you could never imagine between Kindergarten and first grade. They grow exponentially during this time and it is truly amazing to watch them flourish. Beyond learning to read and write and the things parents expect children to learn in Kindergarten, they go through an enormous emotional change for the better. They truly become "big kids"...(sigh)
Brace yourselves for the exciting journey and know along the way there are several ways to ease their anxieties and put your emotions to rest. Check out these simple ways to tackle the Kindergarten jitters that don't overcomplicate the process.
Talk to them. Ask your children how they are feeling about going to a new school and show them that you are there for them. Be present and offer a listening ear.
Share your experiences. Share what it was like to go to elementary school when you were a kid or share what it was like to go through a big transition. This will help them to understand that we all go through change and that it can be for the better.
Read books about school. Children love to engage in a good book. Take your littles to the library and compile a stack of books about what is like to go to Kindergarten. Read them all!
Play school. Engage with your child down on their level. It's fun! Act out situations and model how you would do certain things in the classroom like ask a another classmate to play or ask to go to the bathroom. Modeling will help your child to be excited about these things instead of anxious when it comes time to be on their own.
Visit the school and classroom. If you aren't familiar with the school already, visit the school and classroom and learn the lay of the land together. Take pictures and talk about what happens in certain areas of the school (art, music, PE, lunch, etc). This will help you both to relate to one another when you have future conversations about his or her day.
Be active in their school. Not everyone is able to volunteer in school, but if you can this can be a good way to get to know everyone at the school and also let your child know that they are part of a community. Consider joining the PTA or volunteering selectively in their classrooms where needed. Keep in mind that for some students, being in the classroom and then leaving can actually make it harder. Parents and teachers can work together to figure out the best solution.
Create a special goodbye. It's as simple as it sounds! A high five, hug or special dance move could make all the difference! Our kids love to feel extra special. By creating a personal goodbye routine, you are showing them love above and beyond the norm and it is coming from a person who means the world to them. This will give your little one some extra pep in their step as they walk into school.
Host a playdate. Do you live in a neighborhood or do you know of anyone who's child is also entering Kindergarten next year? Use your social skills and find a way to connect your child with other soon to be Kindergarteners. Host a playdate or schedule a time to meet at a park during the summer. Have an ice cream social! Create a fun and friendly environment in which kids can get to know each other. On their first day of school, they will be excited to see familiar faces!
Write a letter to the teacher. This is brilliant! If your child is feeling extra nervous or excited, have them write a letter to their soon to be teacher. This will be a good way to get their emotions out. Use this as an opportunity to draw out feelings and make a connection with the person who will be spending several hours a week with your little one. Drop the letter(s) off to the school just before school resumes or collect the letters throughout the summer and give them to his or her teacher on the first day of school. You can bet that their teacher will appreciate this gift!
Stay calm. No matter what your child is going through, try to remain calm. They model our behaviors and will notice if we feel a certain way. The best thing we can do is help them feel relaxed during the transition.
No matter where your child is in their journey, you can meet them. Embrace this fragile time as it is really an exciting time! We are watching our kids spread their wings and it comes with a range of emotions. On that first day of school, do your best to hold back the tears until the bus pulls away! Wear those sunglasses if you need to and just smile and wave! Be brave. You've got this. And so do our children.