Starting anything is hard, be it a new routine, a new job, or a new school. As so many things are coming to an end with the graduation of our 4-year-olds and the school year comes to a close, I think it’s a great time to talk about beginnings. The transition to a new school can be scary but exciting. All endings, are really, just new beginnings in disguise!
As so many of our graduating 4 year-olds will be starting kindergarten in the fall, and we’ll be seeing so many new faces here at Center Stage, it’s important to remember that starting a new school is especially hard on kids. The weight of so much newness causes anxiety and fear. Kids can have trouble sleeping or you may even see changes in your child’s behavior in the days leading up to big changes like a new school.
You’ll be inundated with questions and your child’s attitude will range from absolute excitement to sheer terror in any given day. But these big changes don’t have to be traumatic.
Here are a few simple steps that will help to alleviate some anxiety for both parents and kids:
Talk about it!
Don’t be afraid to talk to your kids about what comes next. Let them tell you what is scary for them. Share your experiences (hopefully the good ones!) with them. Ask LOTS of questions about how they are feeling and let them describe to you what things feel the most frightening.
Prepare their expectations
Little ones have incredible imaginations but when it comes to the unknown their wild imaginations fill in the gaps, sometimes for the worse. Help prepare their expectations by getting books and videos about starting school from your local library. There are lots of great resources out there that will help fill in their ‘gaps’ with real information and not just imagination.
Take a ‘Trial Run’
Ask your new school if your child can come and spend some time (with you along, of course) in his or her new classroom. Call and ask when your child’s new teacher will be in their classroom over the summer so you can both go meet him/her. If these aren’t possible take lunch along on orientation day and plan to spend extra time walking halls, finding bathrooms, meeting teachers, and end with a picnic on the playground.
Being emotionally prepared for the first day of a new school is important for parents too! Being ready to give a big hug and kiss and then walk away is hard but necessary. Having a sobbing Mom or Dad will make the separation that much harder for a little one who is already dealing with a lot. Be prepared for the vice-grip hug on your leg and the eyes filled with tears, kids need to know that Mom or Dad are ok with this transition too. Being confident of that, allows kids to be more at ease with a new environment.
So remember as things come to an end in the next few weeks to start preparing for the new beginnings that lie ahead for you and your little one. Every goodbye is a chance to say hello to a brand new adventure!