Preparing Your Child for Kindergarten
By Dr. Kenneth Shore
Parents can enhance their child’s adjustment to kindergarten by taking some of the following steps in advance.
- Visit the school in advance. Consider visiting the school with your child in the spring prior to kindergarten entry. Some districts arrange these visitations as a matter of course. This visit should help her feel more familiar and comfortable with the school.
- Arrange play dates with other children. You and your child will feel more comfortable as kindergarten approaches if she knows someone attending the same class or school.
- Have your child spend time with adults other than parents. If your child is not used to being supervised by other adults, a visit with relatives or family friends will help to ease the upcoming separation for you as well as your child and will help her learn to adjust to different adult styles.
- Help your child learn to enjoy books. This will help to foster an appreciation for the joys of reading as well as promote language development. Introduce your child to your public library. Other language activities — playing word or rhyming games, reading nursery rhymes, making a scrapbook with pictures of items beginning with a specific letter — also lay the foundation for reading.
- Help your child learn basic skills, information and expressions. By kindergarten, your child should be expected to know her full name, address and telephone number. If she is having difficulty retaining this information, try teaching it through a nursery rhyme. If necessary, teach her the proper expressions for asking to go to the bathroom and requesting help without whining or demanding.
- Don’t dwell on the subject of school. Doing so may suggest to your child that it is worrisome for you, which may arouse anxiety in her. Rather try to talk about it as part of the normal course of family events. A week or so before school begins, explain to your child what will happen in school.
- Allow your child to express fears or worries. It is natural for children about to enter kindergarten to be apprehensive. Some of your child’s worries can be relieved through your reassurance. Some can be relieved through information and discussion of the enjoyable activities she will be doing in kindergarten. Others may only abate as your child begins school and sees that her fears are without foundation. By giving permission to your child to share these feelings, it enables you to comfort her. You might remind her of other new situations she has faced and mastered. Keep in mind that older children can sometimes arouse fear in a child about to enter school with school horror stories. If so, put an end to this quickly.