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Calming Those Kindegarten Jitters

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Your child has been cared for and nurtured by loving parents for five wonderful years. Now it is time to send them off to be cared for by someone else … their teacher.

Off into the ‘big’ school they go, after one or two happy, carefree years of preschool. In preschool they learned to share, take turns, listen to their teacher, solve their distresses on their own - and play, play, play! Now reality hits, and their independence is about to take a new path.

The first day of Kindergarten can be a stressful time for both children and parents, but planning in advance for the inevitable tears and distress can greatly ease the situation.

Prepare the child (and yourself!) for the first day of school by discussing it in advance, and giving the child an idea of what to expect. Always use happy, positive words and phrases when discussing it, which will help to instill a positive attitude about school. If you can, make a visit to the school prior to the first day so the child can see the classroom and meet the teacher.

If you anticipate tears, discuss a comfortable separation plan with your child’s teacher. Visit with your child in the classroom for a few minutes to assure a happy separation for both of you. The teacher should be able to encourage the independence of the child while assuring the parent of a successful separation.

Some suggestions to help with a happy separation:

Set the ground rules with your child before heading to school.

“I will stay for five minutes, then I have to leave. I’ll be back when the class is over”. Be firm, and be consistent.

Make sure your child knows you’re leaving.

Don’t attempt to get them involved, then sneak away. TRUST is important! Get the teacher’s attention, and they will attend to your child while you leave. If they cry, it usually lasts about 30 seconds after you’re gone! Resist the urge to return if they cry - this will only prolong the situation.
Say good-bye, then leave quickly. Never prolong the separation by making deals or bargaining for treats after school. This sets up expectations and bad habits that will be difficult to break later, and is unfair to the other children.

Don’t compare your child to another.

If you point out that Brandon isn’t crying, or Julie is happy, that will not reassure your upset child. They need the positive and loving attention of their parent at this time, not the negativity of having their behavior pointed out in front of their peers.

Don’t feel guilty about leaving a crying child with the teacher!

The teacher is a professional, and this is their job. They probably have had years of experience with their own proven ways of dealing with it. Trust that your child will always be shown concern and compassion.


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