Making Kids Comfortable With Kindergarten

Easing the Transition from Early Education

Have you ever moved? Think about how you felt when you left the neighborhood, house, friends, and stores that were familiar and then had to become acquainted with entirely new things. It can be exciting, but for many it can also be a scary experience. For preschoolers about to enter kindergarten the feelings may be quite similar. They're leaving behind the comfort of a routine and people they've grown accustomed to and must now move into the fast-track of elementary education.

School Starting Earlier

Children who love books and vocabulary will have a head start.
Kindergarten isn't the first time youngsters are introduced to teachers and learning these days. Recent estimates say that at least one million children attend some form of preschool or education-based child care in the United States today. The National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University says that 75 percent of 4-year-olds are in pre-school. The rise in kids starting school earlier likely has something to do with the number of two-income households in most areas of the world. Today it has become increasingly difficult for the average family to live comfortably on one salary. Therefore, pre-schools and daycare centers allow both parents to work. Many centers have developed schedules and curricula so that children are not simply exposed to free-for- all play for the duration of the day. Hands-on learning, craft projects, and lessons are also offered.

Easing the Transition

Things learned in pre-school will be enhanced in kindergarten...with more scholastic endeavors.
"Young children may feel complex emotions [like those entering kindergarten], and don't know how to deal with them. Their parents need to guide them," says Norma Richard, assistant professor of education at the National College of Education of National-Louis Uni-versity in Illinois. "Be sure to tell your child [often], 'You can do this!'" There are a number of factors that can help make young children feel more comfortable when attending kindergarten, and parents should lead the way.

1. Program continutity:

One way to ease the transition for children into kindergarten is to choose a pre-school that offers a similar curriculum to the kindergarten he or she eventually will attend. Program continuity keeps things familiar for kids and reinforces lessons learned at age 3 or 4. Many pre-schools also offer kindergarten classes. This could be a viable option and one that best addresses continuity. If your center does not have kindergarten, see if pre-school teachers can converse with kindergarten teachers in the next school to offer information about what was taught and how your child was responding.

2. Talk to your child:

Talking about what will be expected in kindergarten and "psyching" your child up for attending "big boy" or "big girl" school can go a long way toward boosting self-esteem. Mentioning a friend or a family member who has already attended kindergarten, one whom your child likes to emulate, can also make things seem less scary.

3. Mention the similarities of kindergarten and pre-school:

There will be many activities that your child will still find similar in kindergarten. Most programs still focus on building upon a child's sense of curiosity, physical learning, and problem-solving. Things learned in pre-school will only be enhanced in kindergarten and added to with more scholastic endeavors.

4. Reading and writing importance:

Kindergarten lessons will more deeply explore your child's understanding of vocabulary, letters and reading comprehension, even if he or she is not yet doing the reading. Picking up a book and reading with your child remains one of the best ways to prepare him or her for kindergarten. Children who love books and vocabulary will have a head start.

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