Sending your child to kindergarten can be an exciting and scary time for both child and parent. Talking about the new things your child will experience will help ease the anxiety. Try to remember some of your own school experiences and share them with your child. You also can check out books from the local library that tell about children going to school and about what children do at school.
You also may want to seek out a neighborhood child who went to kindergarten last year and visit with both parent and child. You may want to introduce your child to future classmates; this also will give you a chance to meet the parents you will come in contact with throughout the year. Your child will start to look forward to these conversations.
Kindergarten will mean getting to know new adults and making friends with other children. Perhaps your child already has had opportunities to develop social skills by enrollment in a summer program, such as swimming or crafts. Interaction during these sessions will foster sharing, learning a routine, and following class rules.
Go over some basic self-help skills with your child and emphasize that these are growing up skills. Be sure your child knows how to get dressed — buttoning, tying shoes, and snapping snaps. Encourage your child to clean-up after each activity. Teach your child your address and phone number so that you can be reached if your child needs you. Children who walk to school should know about stop signs and where it is safe to cross the street. Independent skills will make the child and parent feel more confident.
One mother thought it would be helpful to practice the morning routine of getting to school. A few days before school began, she took her child through the steps of waking up, eating breakfast, washing and dressing, and walking to school. This helped her create a morning time schedule, and it helped the child become familiar with the route to school.
Prior to the beginning of school, call to see if you and your child can visit the classroom. Introduce your child to the teacher. Let the child become familiar with classroom activity areas and the playground while you get to know the teacher. Good communication is essential; ask questions. Remember, it is always important to be positive!
Family Life Specialist
Iowa State University Extension
1086 LeBaron Hall
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011