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Is Your Child Ready For Kindergarten?

School starts Monday in our town and our family has a Kindergartner.  There’s no magic formula for determining whether your Kindergarten-age child is actually ready to start school.  It’s about emotional readiness to separate from parents,

4 thoughts on “Is Your Child Ready For Kindergarten?

  • August 18, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Kindergarten!!!! I remember my first day, some odd years ago. I hated leaving my mommy. Although I’ve always been an independent lady who loved to explore, I couldn’t stand watching my mom waive goodbye to me behind the glass-window that my eyes grasped as she walked away. My heart sank.

    When I was in college I worked for a child development center and I often received the many children who cried while mommy and daddy waived goodbye to them through the doors. The most heart-wrenching situation!

    As an aspiring child psychologist, I have pondered some of the things that may help both parents and children deal with these situations and also academically related situations.

    Please allow me to share some of those tips:
    1. Create separation early: It may be helpful, the year or few months before the start of kindergarten, to sign your child up with a child development center to get them ready for the separation anxiety. Allowing them a few hours twice a week or so without mom and dad may be helpful.

    2. Create an educational environment before kindergarten: reading to the child, taking the child to a developmental center where educational tools are used, and/or purchasing age-appropriate learning materials may help prepare the child for acadamia.

    3. Talk about the fun involved in becoming a “kindergartener.” Using some re-verse psychology such as statements like “you’re one of the bigger kids now” may be helpful with coaching their independence.

    4.Reassurance: reassuring the child that mommy and daddy will always be near can provide a sense of security. Also getting them in touch and comfortable with their teacher ahead of time may be beneficial. When my mom introduced me to my kindergarten teacher a week before class began, I felt that I personally knew her and wasn’t that stressed by mom not being around.

    5.Provide them with time: telling them that you will be there to pick them up at say 1:00, can provide a sense of security. My mom would always tell me “when the clock says one zero zero, I will be right at the door to get you.” Although I couldn’t tell time that well, I knew that if the arms on the clock pointed to the 1 and the two 00’s I could be sure mom was there to get me.

    6. Make the teacher a “safe-link:” telling the child that the teacher can get in touch with you if they need you, can provide much comfort. Knowing that I could talk to my teacher and she would contact my mom for me, made me feel secure. Even though the teacher may not do it unless there is an emergency, just knowing that she might call mom was comforting.

    7. Give them something to look forward to: I was given special treats for lunch. Telling a child that they have certain favorite treats in their lunch box or that ice cream may be sought after school or extra time playing, can motivate them.

    8. Take one step at a time: children aren’t use to adult-like structure or responsibility. Telling a child that they should straighten up and act “grown-up” right away is very stressful. It is better if a child can be eased into the transitioning period. For example, although they may want to be treated as little grown-ups, take some time pampering them like babies. In addition, if it appears that the child is truly having a problem transitioning, give it some time and give them some time to adjust. Society can be difficult, especially for little people!

    9. If all else fails, consider changing schools, home-schooling, or working with a school psychologist.

    Being creative and placing yourself in the shoes of the child can really help this process go smoothly. It is very difficult for some and very easy for others. As you already know, this is due to the child’s temperment, personality, and level of independence/dependence. Essentially, the main tip is for parents to be comfortable with the transition. Children pick up on their parents and what can determine a smooth or difficult transition can be the emotional level of the parent!

    Very best

  • August 18, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    Dr T –

    Thank you so much for your great insight and wonderful addition to this post. All good suggestions, ones each parent can consider for their own unique situation.

    The transition to Kindergarten certainly is a significant one. Again, thanks for being a great resource.

  • August 19, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Hi Erika,

    Thank you for your kind comments! It was no problem at all. I love working with children, but I hate seeing them fret over separation with their loved ones. It pulls on the heart-strings of the tecachers too I’m sure!

    very best

  • August 19, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    My parents missed the Kindergarten cut off date and sent me to first grade instead. WHAT A MISTAKE! Back in those days – I am in my early 50’s – there was no nursery school or pre-school. I was not emotionally ready and had no older siblings to tell me what to expect. I was the shortest kid in my class for 10 years and the last to physically mature. It was awful. Further, my parents gave me an odd name (my real name is Thaddeus) at a time when conformity was the norm. These errors still haunt me as an adult. They made my life much more difficult. Never do this to your child.


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