School is a stressful time for most folks, there’s no doubt about that. Between starting a new school, making friends, preparing to reengage with homework again. Indeed, preparing for another school year ahead can by trying for even the best of us.
Like adults, teenagers or anyone else who has gone through a full school cycle, you know the difficulties that lie ahead, and based on past experience in dealing with the educational system, chances are you also know how to adjust yourself mentally to the change.
But what if you have never sat inside a school setting for any length of time, and what if your incredibly young mind can’t seem to grasp what sitting inside a classroom under the auspices of a teacher is going to be like?
Thankfully, after having 2 of my little ones already go through the process of starting school for the very first time, I have compiled a list of key things to watch out for so you can teach your little ones the finer points: how to prepare your child emotionally for kindergarten will walk you through some of the key elements and fears your child is likely to go through.
Don’t Let Your Child Know That You are Nervous:
Let’s face it, as parents we always want the best for our little ones, and school is no exception. In fact, when it comes to our children’s mental and physical health, oftentimes we would prefer to take the pain away from them and absorb it ourselves. After all, we all want our kids to experience as little pain and heartbreak as possible in order to maximize their joy and quality of life.
It should come as no surprise then that when it comes to starting kindergarten, our fears and concerns can oftentimes project itself on to our kids, subsequently heightening their own fears and concerns.
If they happen to show a bit of trepidation, have a conversation with your child to address any worry they might be having.
As one social psychologist asserts:
At the same time, honor their feelings and let them talk about them. If they say they’re nervous, rather than say, ‘Don’t be nervous,’ ask them why they’re nervous and validate that feeling. Share a time when you were nervous and how it worked out.”
As difficult as it may seem, it’s especially important to be cognizant of our own feelings, and realize that our children will ultimately feed off our own heightened emotions.
Have A Realistic Talk About Kindergarten With Them:
Most kids when asked about their perception about Kindergarten, will usually indicate that they have no clue what to expect, or they will relay a scene or two about a television show where students are huddled in rows in a classroom grinding out work at their desks while a stern teacher looks on; they often think that they will be stuck doing this all day.
Reassure them that this will not be the case and that the students they saw on television are much older, and they had to build up to that point over several years.
Kids will be pleased to learn that they might only be there for half the day, and a lot of the time will be spent playing and making new friends with other children who are just as nervous as they are.
I guarantee you that this type of frank talk will go along way in alleviating their fears as they move forward with confidence that they will not be ruled under some tyrannical teacher who waves a large wooden ruler in their face.
Listen To Your Child’s Concerns (They Know Best):
As parents, it’s easy to fall in the trap of doing most of the talking and not enough listening. Don’t think it’s beneath you to ask your child what exactly some of their concerns are.
Although we pride ourselves in being detectives and problem solvers, in the end, it’s our children that are the experts in how they are feeling, and ultimately what their concerns really are; the tricky part is getting them to open up and express these same concerns through words or through drawings is the tricky part.
Which brings me to my next suggestion below:
Share Your Personal Stories With Them:
When it comes to easing anxiety and fear, nothing beats a good story that is relatable to the tense situation at hand.
Most of us love stories, but for young children, a good story seems to come to life much more vividly. I believe this has to do with the way young kids process information as their minds are still growing and expanding in comparison to a fully developed adult mind. After all, what child doesn’t truly enjoy storytime?
When my oldest daughter was preparing for her big day, I made sure I relayed my own personal fears of potentially not fitting in, the fear of not having friends to hang out with, and the overall separation anxiety I had from my parents.
Personally, I think if you do have a story to share the effect is extremely profound and effective, to say the least.
Truth be told, even if you can’t share a personal story with them don’t worry, just make one up. I can’t even remember that far back, but that’s OK as long as my child believed that was the case, and that’s all that really mattered to a scared or worried little girl.
Utilize Books As A Powerful Resource:
One tool that just doesn’t receive enough credit in helping children transition successfully into kindergarten is good old relatable books.
There are literally thousands – if not millions of books – that have been published over the decades that are geared towards helping your little one alleviate his or her fear of entering into the school system, beginning with kindergarten.
Oftentimes, the more successful books will portray a really cute character – a bunny or a rabbit for example – going through the process of attending kindergarten for the very first time.
The thing I really like about these types of books – and this approach in general – is that it will prepare your child mentally for their big day, and the characters they use to convey the message are totally relatable. After all, what small child doesn’t like talking bunnies who can relate with them on issues of sensitivity and concern?
How To Prepare Your Child emotionally for kindergarten – Final Thoughts:
No doubt starting kindergarten is an emotional time wrought with uncertainty and trepidation, but thankfully there are many steps you can implement starting today that will go a long way by ensuring your young one is equipped with the knowledge to move forward confidently and have the most enjoyable school year possible.
If you have any experience with your child’s first year I would really love to hear about it. By sharing your personal stories, this will go a long way in helping my other readers with their children as well.