How can I help my kindergartner adjust to school?
Real Mom Problem
“My son is about to start kindergarten, and I have talked to him about what he should expect, but I'm not sure he really understands. He asked me 'Mommy, do I go by myself?' I told him that he does, and he had a shocked look on his face. Is there anything that I need to know about his first few days at school?”
- 1. Stay calm and upbeat when talking about school
- 2. Ask questions, but don't overdo it if your child doesn't seem to want to talk
- 3. Consider reading books or watching videos about starting and going to school
- 4. Before school starts, if there is no prescheduled orientation, see if you can get into the school to look around, see his classroom, and possibly meet the teacher
- 5. Try not to let your child see you get upset if you're sad about him going to school
- 6. Consider giving your child a picture or a small item to carry in his backpack as a reminder of you
Real Mom Solutions
Starting school can be tough for kids -- and sometimes even harder for moms! Check out what these moms suggest for helping your kiddos adjust to kindergarten.
Make School Comfortable
I printed a family picture for my daughter, put it in a Ziplock bag to protect it, and put it in one of the pockets of her backpack. She was very proud to have it and it made her feel better. She carried that picture all year long!
If you are concerned about him being scared, you could sit down with him and write a letter to his new teacher introducing himself, what he likes, etc. I would also e-mail the teacher and try to get a copy of the class list to arrange a playdate before school starts.
Our school allows parents to walk their child to their room during the first week of school. This helps the child know where to go. What I did with our daughter, as we walked to her room, I would point out things she would remember, signs, bathrooms, etc., so she felt more comfy finding those things herself. Then when I knew I could only walk her for two more days I started letting her take ME to her class! If your school allows you to do this, by that time the child knows what goes on in the class and they normally LOVE it. As for the class, they learn all kinds of songs, they color, read, go to phys ed, computer lab, library, recess -- all sorts of activities! Your son will LOVE school. But remember, if he thinks YOU are nervous, he will be nervous, so be careful how you talk in front of him. I believe truly it's harder for us parents than it is for the kids. I cried with both of mine! I have a 22-year-old and one in first grade.
Did the school offer an orientation? If not, maybe call the school and ask for a quick tour or at least a visit to his classroom. Arranging a playdate with at least one other child in his class will help with the transition, too. Let him know that all the other kids are experiencing kindergarten for the first time too.
I think the most important things to go over with your son as he's adjusting to kindergarten are the basic classroom rules, raising your hand to talk, everyone taking turns, listening to the teacher, etc. If he can understand these basic classroom concepts then he will be fine. The teacher will go over the details that they need to know in class.
Read Books About Going to School
Grab some books from the library that talk about starting kindergarten and read them with your child. Those will help with questions and provide information. Also I know buying a new backpack and school supplies always get my kids excited and involved in the process of getting ready for a new year.
I recommend the book, The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn for adjusting to kindergarten. You both will love it and it may start a new routine for both of you.
Find the book Kindergarten Rocks! - read it to/with your child as many times as you can stand.
There are some books we have been reading to get ready for kindergarten: Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come! by Nancy Carlson and When Dinosaurs Go To School by Linda Martin. Just talk about how much fun school will be and all the new friends your son will make. Also, go ahead and work on doing desk work as he will have to be ready to stay in his seat.
Keep Your Own Emotions in Check
Don't worry. He won't want you to stay after ten minutes of seeing other children, and he won't even know you left. Be more prepared for your own emotions. Don't cry until you get out of the room or he'll feel he has to take care of you.
My best advice for helping your son adjust to kindergarten is to attend orientation if they have it and try your absolute best to be upbeat and positive about school. Don't let him see you sad or upset about school. Also when you leave him, instead of saying goodbye, tell him that you love him and will see him later. Then promptly walk away and don't look back. Once you are safely out of the school building, feel free to cry.