Tips for Kindergarten Parents:
(adapted from: http://www.superpages.com/supertips/tips-for-kindergarten-parents.html)
- Establish a routine before school starts. Introduce an earlier bedtime and have your child practice the morning routine of waking up, getting dressed, and eating breakfast.
- Make sure your child understands exactly how he or she will be getting to and from school. If someone other than you will be picking your child up, make sure you make the proper introductions beforehand. (You may also need to clear it with the school ahead of time.)
- Understand going in that kindergarten is different than preschool. Classes are larger, and expectations are higher, so your child won’t be receiving constant, individualized attention from his or her teacher. That said, your child’s teacher should make an effort to get to know your child.
- Make sure to schedule ample playtime for your child after school and on weekends. Now that your child is experiencing a structured school environment, he or she may need a little more free time at home for play.
- Talk to your child about resolving conflicts with other students, and make sure he or she knows to ask an adult for help when necessary.
- Instill your child with an attitude of respect for the rights and property of others.
(adapted from: http://www.superpages.com/supertips/tips-for-kindergarten-parents.html)
.”Back-to-school Blues: How Kindergartners' Parents Cope
The first day of kindergarten is equally exhilarating and terrifying for many kids. Remember how intimidating it felt to walk into that big room filled with people you’d never met, excited about the novelty but unsure of what was to come? It’s a rite of passage kids all over the country go through this time of year. Luckily, their parents are right beside them along the way, ready to quell any fears with a reassuring hug goodbye. And then the school day begins and there’s so much going on that they’re too distracted to remember being afraid.
The transition’s often a little harder for parents, who walk out of the classroom after goodbye hugs with a million thoughts running through their heads at once. Will she be okay today? Is the teacher going to watch after him? How did the years go by so quickly? There are plenty of guides for how to prepare children for kindergarten, but parents need a heads-up, too. After all, they have to cope with someone else taking care of their kids, with being separated from them for long periods of time, and ultimately with their kids’ growing up way too fast. How should parents prepare for that tumultuous first day?
Get to know the school, teacher, and fellow parents.
Taking a tour of the school and meeting with the teacher beforehand is an excellent way to put everyone’s mind more at ease. “My husband and I toured the school before we applied and we spent many days during the interview process at the school,” shares Jennifer Kellogg, a San Francisco–based art director who sent her daughter, Lily, to kindergarten last year. “We also had a school picnic and a class party.” She says that becoming familiar with the school and the community made the first day of school much less anxiety-ridden. “All these preparation activities helped because we got to know the families, so we really felt at ease on the first day,” she explains. “[It] was exciting because we knew these people were going to become like extended family.”
To enhance that connection to the school and your child, get involved in classroom activities if you can. Volunteer to help out on certain days throughout the year, or see if there’s anything you can do remotely, like organize snack days or field trips.
Take time to plan out the first morning.
Anxieties and tension will inevitably run high the morning of the first day of school, but you can minimize these feelings with some organization beforehand. Parents should help their kids pick out a special outfit and pack the school supplies they chose. Discussing what they need to expect that first day and how they’re expected to behave is important, too. Just don’t focus on responsibilities too much; otherwise, kindergarten will seem even scarier. “Emphasize the things they may enjoy doing at school,” Kellogg advises. It also helps to have a fun event planned after their first day so that they have something specific to anticipate. Parents who work full-time may want to take that first day off so that they can spend time with their children afterward and discuss their experiences.
Understand that it’s okay to feel sad, scared, and happy all at once.
The first day of school is full of conflicting emotions for both kids and their parents. When the alarm went off at Kellogg’s house on Lily’s first day of kindergarten, Lily was so excited about going to “big-kid school” that she barely had an appetite. Kellogg and her husband drove Lily to school and walked her up to the entrance, where other families were already gathered and chatting with the teacher. “The teacher greeted the kids and the parents, and suddenly I knew everything was going to be okay,” she recalls. “I remember feeling like I really connected with this community of people and that the school felt warm, safe, and nurturing.” But even though she knew that Lily was in good hands, she still cried after hugging her goodbye. “I remember thinking that my child’s growing up and she’s happy and healthy, but I still felt a little sad,” she shares. “She’s not a baby anymore; she’s in ‘big-kid school.’”
It’s perfectly normal to feel proud that your kid has come so far, just as it’s normal to feel sad that time is going by so quickly. That another person will have authority over your child is hard to come to terms with as well. And if you’re a stay-at-home parent, these feelings could intensify even more. But it’s important not to let the kids see just how difficult it is for you, because that might upset them. Stay calm and positive around them and open up to your partner or to fellow parents instead. They know what you’re going through and can offer comforting words.
Keep the goodbyes short but sweet.
“Walk your child to the classroom, but try not to linger too long,” Kellogg says. “It makes it worse for kids.” If you hug them like you’ll never see them again, they’ll start to wonder why, and that’ll just make them more anxious. If you’ve taken the day off work or you’re a stay-at-home parent, make plans to do something immediately afterward to distract yourself. Celebrate your free time by doing what you haven’t been able to with a kid in tow, like meeting a friend for a shopping date, getting coffee, or simply lounging at home and enjoying the quiet. Call friends or family members with kids who’ve already dealt with the first “first day” if you’re having a lot of trouble coping.
Most parents invest time and energy preparing their kids for the first day of kindergarten, but how many spend enough time preparing themselves for the big change? If you take time to acknowledge concerns and work toward reducing them, perhaps that first day won’t be so intimidating for you or your kids. It’ll never be easy to let go of their hands as they take their first steps into “big-kid school,” but it doesn’t have to be quite so hard.
Kindergarten Anxiety: Parents' guide to the first day
The first day of kindergarten is a
family milestone. It marks not only
the beginning of a child’s formal
education but also the first of many steps
toward independence. It’s an exciting time,
but the transition can be difficult for both
parents and children. Luckily, there are ways
to ease you through this rite of passage.
In the weeks before school starts,
review things such as basic shapes, colors,
numbers and letters. Make sure your child
can recognize his or her name in print
and knows your address and telephone
number. Although most schools do not
expect children to know all these things,
teachers like to get a feel for the overall
level of the class.
Begin to let your child assert some
independence. This is especially important
when shopping for school supplies; having
a say in which lunchbox or backpack they
use is likely to get children more excited
Kelly Babcock, mother of three boys,
narrows down backpack and lunchbox
choices and then lets her sons pick. She
also likes to take them shopping for school
“Even if it’s just picking up crayons and
putting them in the basket, it makes them
feel a part of it,” Babcock says.
Parents can help prepare by having
more conversations with their children
about school. Sandi Lillard, a child
therapist with Burrell Behavior Health,
recommends asking your child questions
such as, “What have you heard about
kindergarten? What do you think it will
“A lot of times kids don’t know they are
fearful, or they don’t know how to express
it,” Lillard says. “When you ask questions
like these it helps rule out some irrational
fears your child might have.
Preparing For School
In the week before school starts, set
new bedtime and morning routines to
acclimate your child to the pace of school.
Check to see if your child’s kindergarten
class has a naptime as many schools now
offer only a short rest period.
“We’re big nap people,” Babcock says.
“I’ve been weaning [my son] off naps all
summer so he’ll be used to it.”
The Burke family had similar problems
adjusting a typically late bedtime for
“She is our little night owl, so we had to
get her used to an earlier bed time,” Burke
The night before the big day, get as
much ready as possible. If the backpack is
already packed and the first-day-of-school
outfit is picked out, there is less chance
something will get misplaced in the rush
of the morning. Aim for consistency in the
morning routine, which builds a child’s
trust and confidence. The more things
they can count on, the less anxiety they
Many families do something to make
the first day special. The Burkes take an
annual first-day-of-school photograph
of their girls with their backpacks and
lunchboxes. Others make a special firstday
breakfast or go out for a celebratory
dinner or dessert.
The Big Day
Lillard says there are three mistakes
many parents make on the first day. The
biggest mistake is the well-intentioned
sneak-out. You may think it will be easier
if you leave when your child is otherwise
occupied, but it really only heightens the
“It’s a trust breaker; if
you leave without telling
them they will be more
anxious when you leave
next time,” Lillard says.
Parents are also guilty of putting too
much pressure on their child to be a “big
boy or girl,” or on the opposite end of the
spectrum projecting their anxiety about
the situation onto their children. Lillard
says it is important to show you are
confident without minimizing your child’s
fears. If a child becomes scared or upset
try reminding them of other times they
were brave, such as a doctor’s visit.
“I didn’t totally bawl, but I was excited
and nervous,” says Babcock about her son’s
first day. “I tried to stay upbeat because he
kept looking back at me for reassurance.”
If you are concerned about your child
having serious separation anxiety, talk
to your child’s teacher about bringing
a comfort item. While some teachers
prefer that they stay away from things like
stuffed animals and blankets, something
small such as a family photo hung in a
cubby or a lipstick kiss mark on their
hand can be enough to soothe an anxious
When you pick your child up from
school, ask them open-ended questions
about their day. Also keep in mind that
for the first few weeks your child is still
in the midst of a big adjustment. They
also may be more tired than usual from
being in such a stimulating environment.
While every child is different, most
adjust to the kindergarten routine in a
Although it marks the end of an era in
your child’s life, most parents agree that
kindergarten is the start of something
better. Burke encourages parents to
embrace the new lifestyle and “enjoy the
ride; it’s a lot of fun.” ■