Q: I’ve been having a great summer with my boys, who are 2.5 and 5, but now I’m getting anxious because I’m going back to work and my kids are starting childcare and Kindergarten. How do I prepare them for the changes, and what can I do to calm myself down?
A: Change is hard for everyone to different degrees. Planning can help, so it’s great that you’re starting now. Your attitude will have an impact on their reactions to a new school environment. Get support from friends and family, and practice being calm and positive around them (“fake it ‘till you make it”). Your children are entering a new phase, and will rely on other adults for learning and comfort, and at the same time you will remain the essential and primary anchor for them.
Tips for a smooth transition:
- Talk to them and read books about pre-school and Kindergarten and tell them about the fun and exciting things they’ll be doing and what their day will be like.
- Many teachers say that it’s the social skills and self-regulation that’s most important when entering Kindergarten. If your child isn’t used to sitting during circle time, listening to stories, or taking turns, be sure and practice these things during the summer. “Simon Says” is a good game to help kids follow instructions and pay attention.
- Encourage independence and let them do what they can for themselves. Have your two-year-old practice pulling his diapers or underpants on and off and washing his own hands; while your five-year-old can help with dinner and shopping. Having him practice his name and letters might make him feel more confident, but don’t pressure him to learn things last minute.
- Maintain regular communication with your children’s teachers. You know your kids better than anyone and can provide the teachers or providers with information to help ensure they have a fun and stimulating time away from home.
Nurse Rona is the host of Childhood Matters radio show, a nurse for 45 years, a temperament specialist, mother of four, and grandmother of two. To hear previous shows, go to www.childhoodmatters.org, and tune in Sundays 7-8AM on 98.1 KISSFM. She is also available to do individual temperament consultations, parent coaching, and workshops.