12 ways to help a child make the transition to kindergarten 

Anne Densmore, Ed.D. 

 

 

If you have a child headed to kindergarten in September, here are some ways you can help ease the transition. 

  1. Try to do some play therapy at home. Small figures, stuffed animals, or puppets will do. Have your “actors” experience a transition to a new place. Don’t forget to “act out” coping strategies, for example, “Mr. Elephant feels scared. So what can he do? Maybe he could tell his teacher!” 
  2. Talk about the transition to your child in a positive way and try not to let your own anxiety about the change show too much. 
  3. Visit the school as soon as you can this summer. If your school offers visiting days, do your best to have your child attend. If your child’s kindergarten provides a daily schedule of activities ahead of time, go over it with your son or daughter. Take photos of the school, the classroom, and the new teacher, if possible. 
  4. See if you can find out some of your child’s new classmates, and set up a play date. Some schools offer late summer playground dates for incoming kindergarteners. 
  5. Role play as much as you can (dramatic play is very important to help preschoolers learn how to accept change and how to begin new roles). 
  6. Tell your child how you felt when you had to go to kindergarten—and what made you feel better and how it turned out okay (that is if you can remember!) 
  7. Ask your child’s siblings to tell her/him about their experience. 
  8. Remind your child “It’s okay to be afraid. But, you’ll feel better each day that you’re there. Lots of kids feel just like you do.” It can be tempting to try to brush off a child’s fear (after all, you know it will be okay). Instead try to acknowledge your child’s fear as real and appropriate while offering reassurance. 
  9. Preschoolers need to feel that their parents believe how they feel is true. 
  10. Give your child time to talk to you about their fears. 
  11. With your child, write a story about his or her first day at kindergarten (with your child as the main character!) Include logistics, feelings, etc. 
  12. Read to your child about starting kindergarten. Some good choices are The Night Before Kindergarten (Reading Railroad Books) Paperback, by illustrators Natasha Wing and Julie Durrel; Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten, written by Joseph Slate and illustrated by Ashley Wolff; Kindergarten Rocks! by Katie Davis; Look out Kindergarten, Here I Come! by Nancy Carlson; and I Am Too Absolutely Small for School (Charlie and Lola),by Lauren Child. 

 

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