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Is Your Child Scared to Start School?


Heading off to kindergarten is a big deal for kids. Most are super excited (if a little nervous) about starting school. For some kids, though, the idea of leaving their parents behind to head into the classroom all day is totally terrifying. Maybe they're shy, or sensitive, or have some social anxiety. At the mention of starting kindergarten, they become upset and unsettled.

It's normal for kids to have some anxiety about this major transition. Even though you believe your little one will eventually love school, it might take some time before it actually happens. In the meantime, you can help your child get more comfortable with the idea of starting school.

Have A Conversation With Your Child

Talk with your child about starting school and what to expect from kindergarten. Ask your little one to tell you what s/he thinks will happen at school, and talk through some of the concerns this description might raise. Let your child know that the teacher will be there to help with any problems. Emphasize the parts you know will be most fun and engaging for your child. Even the basic logistics of getting a new backpack and carrying a lunch could be thrilling to some kids.

If you enjoyed school, be sure to share about your experiences and memories. You could even dig out old photos and other memories you might have saved from your first year in school. Your little one will likely be comforted to know you've been through it and really know what you're talking about!

Get An Early Start

Visit your child's school as much as possible in the spring and summer prior to beginning kindergarten. Participate in any organized social events or playdates, and take all the tours. If you can, arrange to meet the teacher and see the classroom. The more familiar you can make your little one with the school and the adults and kids he'll see there, the easier the transition to kindergarten will be.

Avoiding Separation Anxiety

Many kindergartners have some issues at drop-off for the first few days or even weeks. In general, a hug and kind but firm goodbye is more effective at culling the tears than dragging it out and hanging around to try to console your child. The sooner you go, the sooner your child can settle down and get involved with and distracted by the daily rhythm of the classroom. Leave after you give your child a loving message and a smile. If you're emotional or displaying anxiety, that will rub off on your little one, so try to bury any signs of worry or tears until you're out of sight!

Within a few weeks, your little one probably won't recall ever having had any anxiety about going to school! If there are lingering concerns, speak to your child's teacher to see what's going on—after all, they are experts in dealing with kindergartners! S/he will have some ideas on how to help your little one settle in and enjoy kindergarten. Good luck!

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