Getting Set for Kindergarten
By Annye Rothenberg Ph.D.
a few months, it will be time for your child's first day of
kindergarten. Both children and parents often feel excited and anxious
about all that awaits -- big kids’ school, where children have to
listen to the teacher and can’t just play and do what they want. For
children who plunge into new situations easily, anticipating
kindergarten is exciting. Hesitant children can be as anxious as they
It’s important to understand the
goals of kindergarten. Typically, kindergarten has many rules and the
expectation that children will follow directions without being reminded
repeatedly. There are some choices – especially during recess – but
very few compared to a play-based preschool. Kindergarten teachers are
usually warm and supportive, helping children adjust to the academic
demands and learn to socialize successfully. They also help youngsters
become more independent, not blowing their noses for them or picking up
their dropped pencils.
You can begin to ease
your child’s adjustment by asking what he thinks kindergarten is like.
He may picture it as very strict or as just like preschool. If he says
he doesn’t know, give him some choices to help him put his impressions
into words. Once you know what he thinks, you can help him get a
These eight strategies can help you and your youngster get off to a good start at school..
before school starts, and during the kindergarten year help her
practice printing her name, the capital letters, and numbers at least
to 10, and making the letter sounds. Work on skills like knowing her
phone number and address, picking up toys and clothes, and using the
toilet without reminders. Work on her social skills, language,
attention span, and willingness to do less-fun things, such as cleaning
up her spilled milk. Make sure your parenting approach hasn’t been so
child-directed that she will resist the teacher’s directions.
many children had less structure in the summer and more time with
family, it helps to prepare them for the upcoming changes. In the last
days of summer, follow the morning and bedtime schedule you’ll use
after school starts. Five-year-olds need about 11 hours of sleep and
six-year-olds about 10¾. You may have to darken his room at bedtime
with window coverings in late summer. Get him used to getting dressed
right away in the morning, then breakfast and teeth. Stop any morning
TV. Help him practice getting his backpack and/or lunch ready.
the last weeks before school begins, if you’ve been with your child
nonstop, get her together with friends, extended family, and especially
her new classmates, to ease the separation.
you know who your child’s teacher is, see if you and your child can
meet the teacher and visit the room. The teacher will probably try to
help your child feel comfortable and excited about kindergarten.
Explain to your child how he’ll get to school, what time school ends,
and where you will meet him when school ends. Show him the office and
explain what the principal does and who he or she is. If you know
another child in the class, try to arrange for the kids to go into
- If you think your child
needs it, remind her that the teacher is in charge and will be teaching
her reading, writing, and numbers, and doing projects.
back-to-school night, pay attention to the kindergarten goals and
activities. Arrange to talk to the teacher about any concerns. This
will help you support the school’s expectations for your child. He
needs to know you believe in his teacher. Public schools follow state
curriculum standards, and private schools usually have written goals
and expectations for each grade. You can find the state standards on
every state’s Department of Education website. You can also ask the
school for its goals for each grade.
in your child’s classroom helps you understand what she’s learning, how
she’s coping, and who her new friends are. Most schools will
welcome your help, at least with holiday parties and field trips. It’s
easier to talk to your child about her day if you’ve been in her class.
If it’s allowed, volunteering weekly is fantastic, but even monthly is
worthwhile. Don’t mention to your child any disagreements or problems
you have with the school. Teachers are trained professionals who do a
tremendous amount of work with our children. Be sure you show them
respect and appreciation.
- Some children
adjust easily. Others take several weeks or longer to feel comfortable.
Your child may feel stressed, tired, and irritable after school, and
may be defiant at home. He may need the occasional nap. Consider a
lighter schedule outside school for the fall.
Good luck to you and your kindergartner as your child begins this big kids’ learning journey.
Annye Rothenberg, Ph.D., author, has been a child/parent
psychologist and a specialist in childrearing and child development for more than 25 years. Her parenting psychology practice is
in Emerald Hills, California. She is also on the adjunct faculty in
pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Rothenberg
was the founder/director of the Child Rearing parenting program in Palo
Alto, California, and is the author of the award-winning books Mommy and Daddy are Always Supposed to Say Yes … Aren’t They?, Why Do I Have To?, I Like To Eat Treats, I Don't Want to Go to the Toilet, I Want To Make Friends and I'm Getting Ready For Kindergarten. These are all-in-one books with a story for preschoolers and a manual
for parents. Her new series is for elementary school childen and their parents. The first book is Why Can't I Be the Boss of Me? (2015). For more information about her books and to read her
articles, visit www.PerfectingParentingPress.com. To find out about her counseling practice and her speaker presentations, go to AnnyeRothenberg.com.