My Child Is Going to Kindergarten

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I’m nervous. This is the year – now the week – that I walk my son down the hall for his first day of kindergarten. I can’t think about it too much or I get sad. Where did the past five years go?

Really I shouldn’t be sad, but it’s a milestone, a big one. This is the beginning of his educational career building on his foundation of ABCs and 123s. Honestly I’m not so nervous about the learning part of kindergarten, I’m nervous about the social aspect. Will he make new friends or bottle up in the corner sad? Will he ask questions and be curious? Will the other kids be nice? Will he be nice? There’s no way to know and there’s no way to know how it will go during any stage of his school career, but this year, it’s all new – to him and to me. But I’m ready. (I repeat to myself, “I’m ready!”).

Any time you face change, I believe you should take the bull by the horns and face it with confidence. No looking back, just forward. Build on what you know. Spread your wings and fly. Kids are quick to pick up on parents’ fears, so any fears or tears I share or shed will be away from the ears and eyes of my new kindergartener. Nonetheless, I’m going to pick up one of the books suggested in our story about helping kids beat back-to-school jitters, and take to heart the reminder that each year is an “exercise in growth … he’ll be fine …. just breathe.” Good advice for so many of life’s challenges, parenting or not.

Here are some other school readiness tips from PBS KIDS for those of us with kiddos going to kindergarten:

1. Be involved and make learning fun. Research shows that children are more likely to succeed academically and socially in school when their parents or caregivers actively support and encourage them to take pleasure in learning.

2. Talk with your child. Young learners need to be in language rich environments. Talking to your child about a book you read together or exploring an educational app together are ways to help your child build language and acquire the skills needed to learn how to read.

3. Help your child explore. Encourage kids to ask questions and try different ways of using materials, offering them a wide range of new experiences. When choosing media, follow your child’s interests and look for educational content that builds on their excitement.

4. Let your child experiment. Kids experience great satisfaction when they try and finish new things. Give them a bit of support when they need it, but be careful not to take over completely. Simple household tasks, art projects and experimenting with various musical games are all ways that children can experiment and build confidence.

5. Nurture your child’s natural curiosity. Allow your child to chase a butterfly or watch a hermit crab peep out of its shell. Encourage them to investigate everyday objects as a way to develop curiosity and an interest in learning more.