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Kindercare: Preparing Your Child For Kindergarten

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Just a few more weeks, and perhaps for some, just a few more days to the beginning of the new school year. And, for many “new” parents that could also mean sending your child off to (full-time) academia (kindergarten) for the very first time.

No doubt you have mixed emotions (of excitement, and a bit of sadness), but rest assured, you are not alone, your child is feeling the “stress” too. Remember, up until now he or she has known only YOU and all YOU have exposed him/her to. Even if your child has been exposed to pre-K or childcare, chances are it was only for a few hours out of the day, and with mostly peers his/her own age. This new full-time experience in an environment full of kids of all ages (from kindergarten to 6th or 8th grade, depending on the school) is sending a clear message to your child that this experience is going to be different.

Experts suggest that your child is less concerned about his/her ability to excel at academics or foster friendships, but is mostly worried about the unknown and the dynamics of his/her new environment and what to expect, especially if you’ve explained this adventure as his or her first one as a “big kid” and his or her first real taste of “independence”.

Experts say you should address your child’s stress by not showing yours and by finding creative ways to reassure you both that everything will be just fine. Professionals recommend taking artistic approach and cleverly constructing a reassuring tale about a child going to “real school” for the first time. Make your child the main character, address all fears and concerns you both may be feeling and experiencing, focus on the positive, and include a friendly and helpful principal or teacher.

Allow the story to “evolve” over days and weeks, weaving into it real experiences your child tells you about and challenges you both face. Make it fun, playful, and positive.

Experts also recommend incorporating into your tale what kindergarten will be like and what the child’s day will consist of. Tell your child about learning the alphabet and how to count, cut with scissors, color and play with new friends. Consider giving him or her the added advantage of developing several of these skills beforehand so he or she won’t experience “public frustration”. Also emphasize how this new experience will require good listening skills and the ability to follow rules and directions….a quality you should have begun nurturing at home.

Conveying information via fictional plays and stories, according to experts, offers you child peace of mind as he/she envisions the scenario and begins to relax with regards realizing that he or she is capable of managing his/her new environment. And, experts note that such stories that creatively address and appease their concerns and fears also stimulate and foster good mental health.

Another recommendation experts make is engaging your child in pretend play about his/her upcoming experience. They recommend designating an area in your home for your child to play school. Make his/her students or other classmates be teddy bears, stuffed animals, and or dolls. Allow your child to be the teacher in some instances and the student in others, with you taking the role of teacher.

Accept your child’s feelings and validate them. Make sure however that by addressing them that you are encouraging and projecting positive feedback, and fostering a positive attitude and giving confidence allowing him or her to understand that you have faith in his or her ability to be successful.

Experts also encourage parents to take notice of how your child reacts to new, challenging and potential situations. They remind parents that throughout your child’s lifetime he or she will be faced with many new and interesting environments and experiences that may require preparation. Once he or she has overcome minor “hurdles”, even in a pretend environment, the better he or she will be at handling larger ones in a real environment. And the emphasize that if your child is one that is easily stressed, he or see may require more attention and work in getting him/her prepared for entering different seasons of his or her life. Kindergarten is only the beginning.

Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > Kindercare: Preparing Your Child For Kindergarten

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