First Day of Kindergarten Tips for Parents
Not only is the first day of kindergarten a big step in a child's life, it's also a milestone for parents. Leaving a child at school on the first day can be an emotional experience, and it's hard to prepare for the feelings that may overcome both the child and the parents when it's time to say good-bye. For children, the first day of kindergarten means they are suddenly entering a new and strange world. For parents, the first day means their child is no longer a baby.
Try Not to Cry
One of the most important things parents can do for your child on her first day of kindergarten is to hold back the tears! It's bad enough when a child cries, but when a parent cries, the situation will only escalate.
Not being emotional about the fact that it's the first day of "real" school for a child is the best example that parents can set. Parents should remember to remain happy, upbeat, and excited that the school year has begun. This will help encourage the child to be positive about school, and learn to love it.
Full-Day vs. Half-Day Kindergarten
In many schools, parents are offered a choice of either full-day or half-day kindergarten. Especially in public schools, the option of a full-day kindergarten program may not be free. While the first half of the day may be at no charge, the second half (or "enrichment" program) may require some sort of tuition, which is usually a lot less expensive than a babysitter or nanny.
There have been numerous studies on whether or not a full day of kindergarten really benefits a child of the age of five or six. As a result of the studies, it has been determined that a full-day kindergarten program does academically and socially benefit most kids. However, a full day of kindergarten may be too much for some children, especially those who are used to taking naps in the afternoon.
Easing the Transition for Kids
It is very rare for a child (and his or her parents) to not go through an adjustment period when entering kindergarten for the first time. Not only is the child with a new group of kids and a new teacher, but he or she is probably not used to getting up in the morning and getting to school before the school bell rings.
Following are some tips that should help make the adjustment to kindergarten a little bit easier:
- Start talking about kindergarten several weeks or months before the first day of school. Remind the child how exciting it will be to meet new friends and learn new things.
- If the school offers some sort of orientation program or tour of the school, make sure to attend one or both. If a child knows what to expect, the transition on the first day will be easier.
- If possible, plan a get-together during the summer with some of the other children who will be in the same kindergarten class. It will be easier for any child if she knows at least one child in the classroom on the first day.
There are many published books that can help a child become excited about the first day of kindergarten. Following are two that come highly recommended:
- The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing is a book whose characters are apprehensive about getting ready for their first day of school, only to find out how much fun it is when they finally get there.
- First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg is a book with a funny ending. It's about a person named "Sarah" who desperately does not want to go to the first day of school, but when she finally gets there, the reader finds out that "Sarah" is a teacher - not a child. The book teaches children that they're not alone in having anxiety about the first day of school.