Keep Preschoolers Cool about School
By Jane Lake
The first day of school is a momentous occasion for parent and
child. Excitement, tinged with uncertainty, fills the weeks before September.
Anxious mothers coax awkward five-year-old fingers to tie shoelaces (or give up
and buy sneakers with Velcro), while proud fathers urge their children to write
their own names or recite the alphabet.
It used to be that children entering the school system were
expected to have mastered certain skills before arriving, but times have
changed, according to Marilyn Philbrick, a primary education co-coordinator for
a large, progressive school board. "We recognize that children develop at
different rates, and there are no skills as such that we insist a child learn
before entering kindergarten. What we like to see is a child who has confidence
and a positive attitude."
Still, starting school marks a child's first step into the world
outside the family. There are changes and challenges to face. It's a rare parent
or child who can "let go" without some pain. To ease the transition from home or
nursery school to kindergarten, practice these strategies during summer:
• Talk about school. First-day jitters are common, but being
frightened may be more manageable if you encourage your child to express his or
• Read about school or help your child to "play school" with you
or with friends.
• Reinforce basic safety rules. Your child should be able to say
his or her name and address clearly. Try helping your child memorize your home
phone number, too; it may be easier if you sing it together to the tune of
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.
• Encourage friendships with neighborhood children who are also
starting kindergarten. Knowing even one child who will be sharing that first day
can make a big difference.
• Tell your child to choose something from home to take to
school. A favorite small toy or family photo can help ease homesickness.
• Take advantage of introductory days when you and your child
can meet the teacher and have an advance look at the kindergarten classroom.
• Maintain a cheerful attitude towards school; chances are your
child will then feel cheerful about it, too.
A kindergarten program should provide a warm, caring and
fun-loving environment sensitive to individual differences, where each child has
an opportunity to advance at his or her own rate. As children progress, they
learn new things and meet new people. Your encouragement can help them feel good
about themselves and their accomplishments; in years to come, this new-found
independence will bring its own rewards, not only in school, but in the rest of
the big wide world, as well.
Jane Lake is a successful freelance writer and editor of the top-ranked
http://www.allfreecrafts.com, where you will find photos and full
instructions for hundreds of craft projects. She also edits and
http://www.allfreeprintables.com, which features printable recipe
cards, chore coupons, school lists, check lists and paper toys.