Making Kindergarten Normal
Each year when a child makes that transition from months at home to going back to school, there is always a transition. As adults we might compare it to that feeling when we go off on two weeks vacation and then return to work. Except the transition is much more difficult for youth because each year it is a new school routine, new teachers and they have often been out of school for months, not weeks.
But the transition from being a child in the home to the classroom is most extreme for a very young child facing that first day at kindergarten. It helps to think about that transition by trying to look at the challenge through the eyes of your little girl or boy as much as you can. In most cases, being at home with mom, dad, siblings and the family pet may be all that he or she knows. Not only does it seem that the world revolves around family, the family home is a place of comfort and other than brief outings, the world is not a place that the child feels comfortable with yet.
So if you take your child to school for that first day and leave her there, the environment she is now in could not be more strange to her than if you put your child in the middle of the rain forest to fend for herself. Small wonder so many children undergo extreme anxiety that first day of kindergarten when their parents leave them to the first major adjustment of life and they are doing it from a cold stop with absolutely no preparation whatsoever.
There is a lot you can do to make that first day they are stetting in the classroom less strange to your child. By taking your child through some preparation times in advance of the first day, you can do a lot to make the idea of going to kindergarten normal to your child and to make that first day seem more routine and even fun when she finds her desk and begins to listen to a teacher for the first time ever.
Videos can help your child visualize school and be of tremendous help. Look for children’s videos that are appropriate to your little one’s age that are educational and above all fun and comforting to her as these videos picture the on screen children in a school like setting. Many of the most popular children oriented TV shows like Sesame Street and Barney will have videos to help with this transition. Watch them together with your child and then afterward talk about the day that will come when she will go off to school. In that way, you are helping her process that such a thing is a reality and that she should mentally prepare for that day.
You can also use playtime at home to help your child pretend to be in school. You can arrange the play furniture you have in a classroom setting and put her stuffed animals in the other chairs. Then you can be the teacher and simulate how being in school might go. As you call on her stuffed bear to answer questions or on her toy ducky to sit up straight, you child will laugh but also be preparing mentally for when that is a real situation with lots of other real children all around her.
Visits to the classroom that your child will attend and meeting the teacher are also good steps toward making that transition. When you see your child actually initiating going to school during play with her toys or with other children, you will know that she is well on her way toward a smooth transition into academic life, even if that academic life is at this time only kindergarten.