Instead, the main focus should be on making the process enjoyable, she advises.
- "Parents always should look for opportunities to support their children's literacy, math and social studies development, but in informal ways that kids find interesting and exciting. This is not the time to drill your kid on the alphabet."
- Prepare for new situations. "A new experience is less strange and much less anxiety-provoking for a child when he or she is prepared for what's coming," says Golbeck. For example, she says parents can deflect some anxiety their child might have about traveling to and from before-and-after-school programs by talking about bus routes. They might even drive the route with their child, pointing out places of interest along the way. To eliminate potentially stressful situations, parents should make sure responsible adults know where the child should be at all times of day.
- New faces. Research shows that children who start kindergarten with their preschool friends adjust more quickly, says Golbeck. Arranging play dates with future classmates is one way to help your child make the transition, says Golbeck. But don't worry if that's not feasible: "By the end of the year there are no differences between kids with acquaintances at the beginning of the kindergarten year and kids without."
- Keep it concrete. "Sometimes adults don't understand how literal kids are," says Golbeck, who illustrates this point by relating the story of her own nephew, who was disappointed when he missed his district's kindergarten age cutoff by a matter of days, but perked up when his mother promised that when he was five, he too would go to kindergarten. "He woke up on his fifth birthday all set to go to school. He literally thought he would be able to start kindergarten on his fifth birthday. In retrospect, his mother should have said, ‘You'll go to school next year,' " says Golbeck. "So use concrete terms," she advises, "and carefully walk through events to be certain your child really understands what's happening."
- Help the teacher understand your child. Golbeck notes that kindergarten teachers typically teach two half-day classes, which means they have twice the number of children to get to know. "Help them understand your child by sharing information and insights," says Golbeck. "They'll appreciate it and your child will benefit."
- Tone down your own anxiety. "Kids do an incredible job of picking up on their parents' mood and feelings about a situation," Golbeck notes. "What that means is that parents should try to keep their own concerns and anxieties in check. I know that's easier to say than to do. But if a parent is feeling anxious, their child will pick up on those feelings and carry them to school."
Above all, parents should proudly celebrate the first day of kindergarten as an important passage in their child's life, says Golbeck. "Remind yourself that this is a big, exciting event for your child. Celebrate that and let your child enjoy what for him or her is a significant accomplishment."
Source: Rutger's University