Making the first day of Kindergarten easy and fun

On Her WayFor most kids the first day of kindergarten is an exciting time. But the transition can also be worrisome. It’s a big step for children and their parents.

Even kids who have been through pre-school know that kindergarten is an entirely different experience. They see references to kindergarten on TV and listen to other family members talk about it. Because young children don’t process information in the same way adults do, they may misinterpret what they see and hear, and start worrying about the first day of school.

Fortunately, there are simple things that parents can do to help make the first day of kindergarten easy and fun. The key ingredients are managing your own anxiety, and communicating in a way that fits with your child’s level of intellectual and emotional development.

Manage your own anxiety.

Focus on your child’s opportunities for learning and for making new friends. If you’re one of those parents who constantly worries about safety, consider that accidents at school are far fewer than those at home.

Also, keep in mind that it’s common for young children to miss their parents, and most will quickly adapt. Being calm yourself can go a long way in easing any anxiety that your child might have about going to school.

Help your child mentally prepare.

  • Kids at this age think in very concrete terms. Therefore, when you talk to them about kindergarten be factual. Discuss where they will be, what they’ll see, and what they’ll do.
  • Take your child to the school prior to the first official day. If possible, arrange to visit the kindergarten classroom and to meet the teacher. Point out the location of the bathroom.
  • Mention familiar things your child may find at school, such as picture books and brand new markers and crayons. Describe typical situations, such as how everyone lines up to go outside.
  • If your child will be riding on the school bus, talk about what it looks like inside and what to do when it arrives at the school. You can even play “school bus” together by arranging a few chairs in rows.
  • To help your child feel socially connected, arrange play dates with peers who will be starting kindergarten at the same school.
  • Avoid saying anything that might arouse anxiety in your child, such as “I’ll miss you when you go to school.”
  • Don’t give reassurances unless your child asks for it. Unsolicited advice like, “If the big kids start fighting with you, tell the teacher right away,” can make kids more apprehensive, especially if the possibility of such events never occurred to them.

Above all, relax.

The first day of kindergarten does not predict future school experience. Even if it doesn’t go that well, most kids recover quite quickly.

Photo courtesy of Lance Nishihira (via Flickr)



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7 Responses to “Making the first day of Kindergarten easy and fun”

  1. Julia   October 16, 2013 at 7:47 am

    My daughter has been in her Kindergarten class since late August(2013). We can see a big difference in children who did go to Pre-K and those who were kept at home. Because she went through that initial anxiety in Pre-K, starting Kindergarten for her was a lot of fun. To help her with any anxiety she may have had(just in case), we took her to open house and had her meet her teacher and also sent her to Summer Classes to help get her prepared. As a result, she had very little anxiety, in fact we she was very happy to start school.

  2. Susan   August 23, 2013 at 7:44 am

    Further more I forgot to say that the article gives some great tips. I for one think that arranging play dates is very important as I would break my heart to see my child all alone at school with no friends.

  3. Susan   August 23, 2013 at 7:42 am

    This is probably as big a day for mothers as it is for children. I’ts a very special day that a mom will never forget – the first day her kid went to school. :-)

  4. erika   August 23, 2013 at 2:28 am

    really nice article and i am glad to know how parents prepare their kids for the 1st day of school.
    Kindergarten schools really help your child in shaping up for the school.

  5. Norma   August 22, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    We also need t prepare activities and games that would interests our kids. Thanks for the suggestions.

  6. Yasuko Kishi   August 19, 2013 at 7:41 am

    When I read this article, I remembered the kindergarten age of myself. I was a transfer student. And, every day, I was crying that I can not dance well, in morning meeting, and I was reluctant to go to kindergarten. On the other hand, my mother was severe.
    One day, in the open day of the parents, I went to hug for mother in the middle of a class. At same day, When I came back home, I was scolded by his mother. However, I could not understand what went wrong. And, was a grandmother to have cheered up me when I was afraid and cried.
    Of course, preparation of the First Day Of kindergarten also is important, but children have a lot of experience in there. I think that the parent should ask a kindergartner the state of the child. After all, I think that they look at the state of the child most in a kindergarten. We should do the information exchange, of the state of the child in the kindergarten, and the state of the child among families.