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Getting a Kick Start for Kindergarten: Tips for a Successful Transition

Feb 13, 2020
Two kindergartners walking to school

As you and your preschooler prepare to transition into Kindergarten, a range of feelings may arise from excitement to sadness to fear or worry. Here are ways to help your family prepare for this change.

Before Starting School

  • Visit your child’s school to tour and meet teachers and staff. Many schools arrange orientation activities to help your little one get to know the new environment. If you cannot make the event or your school does not offer one, call to see if you can arrange your own visit. Take pictures to review at home if that would be helpful for your child.
  • Gather needed information from the school on enrollment, supplies, schedule and transportation. Check out the bus schedule and stops and drop-off/pick-up lines and areas. Talk with and show your child where they will be going to meet up with you.
  • Find out about lunch/snack responsibilities and plan accordingly. (A hungry child is not a happy one!)
  • If possible, arrange a playdate with peers from your child’s class. Building social skills and a parent network can be very helpful to both you and your child when the school year starts.
  • Create and start morning routines early. If you do not already have a morning routine, develop a schedule for consistency and so your child knows what to expect each day. Bedtimes or wake-up times may need adjusted and should be done a few weeks before school starts. Having plenty of time to complete your morning tasks, reduces stress and rushing. Routines are helpful and comforting to both children and adults.
  • Read books together about starting kindergarten and talk with your child about their feelings regarding this transition. Your local library is a great resource. Some suggestions may include:
    • Kindergarten, Here I Come! by DJ Steinburg
    • Kindergarten Rocks! by Katie Davis
    • First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
    • Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate

On the First Day of School and After

  • Be positive and encouraging. Try to hold worry, sadness, or tears until you are away from your child. Smile and give hugs and kisses.
  • Help your child with saying goodbye by being specific about when they will see you again (i.e. after snack and music, after daycare, etc.). A goodbye routine may be helpful such as having a special handshake or goodbye phrase. Some children may need extra support like a transition object they can hold onto in their pocket or bookbag (i.e. a family picture, special pebble/stone, coin, small stuffy, or clothing item with your scent).
  • Talk with your child about their day, asking things like “What was fun for you today?” or “What did you do that was new?”
  • Your child may need lots of time to adjust to the new schedule and expectations of kindergarten. This could last a few weeks to maybe months. Kids will likely be tired and cranky the first weeks getting used to a new routine. Try not to schedule many extra-curricular activities initially.
  • You might see an increase in feelings and behaviors. Children may be holding themselves together all day at school and have a release of their pent up emotions once they are home or are just working through big changes. Acknowledge the feelings you see and offer ways to help your child release feelings and energy and be calm.
  • Praise and remind your child of their strengths and things they do/did well.
  • Enjoy being the parent of a growing kindergartner!
Would you like to feel less stressed and feel confident that you are raising happy, confident kids? The Positive Parenting Program (Triple P) gives parents new ideas and a chance to meet other parents.
Positive Parenting Program (Triple P) at Nationwide Children's Hospital
For more information, click here.

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Monica Ellis
Behavioral Health

Monica L. Ellis, LISW-S, is a community based therapist in the Early Childhood Mental Health (ECMH) program under Big Lots Behavioral Health Services. Monica has a passion for working with children and believes her purpose is to support little ones and their families to become whole, healthy, and healed.

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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.