10 Ways To Help Your Child Feel More Confident About Kindergarten

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Preschool student group in classroom.

My baby is starting kindergarten in a few weeks. While she’s gone to school before this feels different to me. It feels bigger to me and I think it feel bigger to her too.

Somehow, this seems to mark the start of something in life. In my head it certainly marks the start of her academic career, but it’s more than that. It’s the start of who she’ll be outside of our home.

The people in this school, the good and the bad, will begin to shape her from the day she steps through those doors and the idea of that is exciting and nerve wracking.

As I have been thinking about this for the last few weeks I decided to put together a list of ways I could help prepare her for this day and all these changes she’ll be experiencing.

Talk to your child about the new school schedule

My daughter has gone to a daycare/preschool since she was 2. She understands that school is an all-day thing, but her kindergarten day will actually be shorter. In our district Kindergarten was actually only two and a half hours so we enrolled her in something called Enrichment.

Enrichment will supplement kindergarten and she’ll be exposed to more science, math and art then she would during the short kindergarten day. It will be from 9 – 3 p.m., so still considerably shorter than a regular daycare day, and she will have a different teacher for each part of the day so that will feel different to her.

She will also not be required to have nap time, which was required at her preschool. She gave up naps long ago so she’ll probably enjoy this but I’m guessing without any rest time she’ll be more tired by the time the end of the day comes around.

10 Things To Discuss Before Kindergarten - The Everyday Mom Life

10 Ways To Help Your Child Feel Confident About Kindergarten

Make sure your child understands transportation

My daughter can take a bus to her school or I can drive her. I’m not sure which we will be doing yet. I’m sure we will start out with me driving her. If she wants to ride the bus I will probably be the weirdo that drives behind the bus. Either way it goes, I need to make sure she understands where she’ll be dropped off, where she’ll be picked up and who is picking her up.

If your child is going to before and after school care there might be an extra step you need to talk about. If I worked a 9-5 job and had to send my daughter to before and after school care she would need to get on another bus and go to a different building.

Even if I end up driving her each day I will more than likely be waiting in a line of cars versus getting out of the car to find her. She needs to understand where to stand to meet me and where no to go (the street). I’m hoping that the teachers will be there to help the kindergartners but we haven’t had orientation yet so…

10 Things To Discuss Before Kindergarten - The Everyday Mom Life

Review stranger danger rules

This is the perfect time to talk to your children again about, “Stranger Danger.” She and I have reviewed some of the things you do if someone approaches you or grabs you and who to look for if you’re lost. In the next few weeks we will be talking about this over and over again because I’m scared out of my mind.

10 Things To Discuss Before The First Day of Kindergarten - The Everyday Mom Life

Visit the school before starting to take a tour or attend orientation

If you have an option to go to an orientation, go. We have our orientation coming up and at that time we will take a tour of the school and meet her teacher. I just received an email about it tonight so I feel a bit more calm knowing there is a day when I will get more information and get an understanding of the people in my child’s orbit.

For her I think this will help her to feel more comfortable as walks into the building on her first day. I’m hoping she meets a few friendly faces that she can connect with too.

Find small ways to enhance how special school is – outside of just the academics

Whether it’s helping to pack lunch, picking out school supplies that help to express their personality or getting a back-to-school haircut, find little ways to make this time of year special for your child. School is a very important and special time for children and kindergarten starts off their school career by giving them some freedom to be their own person.

School is really the place where they get to be independent of parents and siblings and really begin to learn to identify themselves as an individual.  Of course the academics piece is important, but so are all the little things that will help make them, well, them.

In my house we always made a big deal out of back to school clothes shopping. My parents didn’t have a lot of money so while it was a huge expense for them, it was a tradition I loved. I want to continue this with my kids because it’s exciting to get to pick out your own clothes. My daughter loves picking out her outfit every day now so I know she’s going to love this year-after-year.

Explain there will be much older kids around

While my daughter was used to having some older kids around when she was in pre-school, I don’t think you’re really aware of that when you’re 2, 3 or 4. Now there will be some kids much bigger than her because the school goes up to 5th grade. Since bigger kids can sometimes be intimidating I want her to understand that they will be around so she feels more comfortable.

At our school they have a buddy program where the 4th and 5th graders come into to the kindergarten class to help the younger kids with skills like reading and writing. It also helps to make them feel connected to the school. And, it helps them to feel less intimidated knowing they have an older friend.

Ask how they feel about starting a big kid school

We have yet to have this conversation but we have been talking about “big kid schools” for a long time. We often pass her high school when we drive and we did visit her elementary school in March for a pre-orientation orientation. But actually leaving her house and going to a new school can be scary.

My daughter is really shy so I’m really interested to see how her first few days go. She “grew up” with her pre-school friends so she never had to actively make friends. I think that might be a little tough for her.

This conversation will also be really good for both of us. I’m going to hold off until after orientation so she has a better understanding of the change that’s coming.

If you know of another kid in your neighborhood starting school, introduce your kids

I’m a little sad that we don’t live in the 1950s where everyone knows their neighbors. We actually don’t know of another little kid her age in the neighborhood. While we have met our neighbors we don’t know them.

However, we do have a neighborhood block party coming up so I plan to introduce her to anyone that looks her age at that time.

If you’re lucky enough to know kids in your neighborhood already that will be a huge help in making your child feel comfortable on the first day of school.

Explain what homework is and what you’ll expect

We had homework in preschool. My daughter thought it was fun. When the simple math started my eyes glazed over. We counted with cereal, traced letters, matched sounds, etc.

If your child hasn’t experience homework before, you might want to explain it beforehand so they are prepared for work after school. You should also explain your expectations for it. Will it be done before dinner? Do you work and will it be done after dinner? Are electronics a no no until it’s done? Lay the ground rules early so there’s not confusion later.

I’m not actually sure if my daughter will get homework in kindergarten but we’re going to chat about it anyways. I see long nights of frustration in my future, even if it’s not this year.

Talk about new bedtime and wake-up routines

During the summertime people can get pretty lax about bedtimes and the bedtime routine. If your child has never gone to school explain to them that there will be an earlier bedtime or a more structured bedtime. Explain that this will help them do their best work in the classroom.

Also explain how mornings will work during the school year. Most kids will need to wake-up earlier. My daughter gets up at 5:30 so I guess I’m lucky there will not be an adjustment for us there. However, talking about this will be prep for me to. She actually has to be somewhere on time now. That’s really going to be new for both of us.

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  1. In our town the kindergarteners are in their own school, so there are no older kids around. And I think that is how it should be. A 5 year old should not be around 5th graders.

  2. Oh my gosh, I remember those first days of school. These are great tips! I think communication with your children is key, and they love routine. Now, my baby is starting law school next week. It goes so fast! 🙂

  3. My little one starts preschool tomorrow and I think I need to talk to her about a few of these too, particularly making sure she understands that it’s an all day thing and she can’t just sit it out when she doesn’t feel like going. We already picked out a special outfit days ago, because girly girl over here ????

  4. These are great tips for parents who are going to send their first kids off to school this year. I think it’s always important to talk them through it at least a month before the school starts so they can get used to the idea.

  5. Your daughter is so cute and looks so excited for kindergarten. I was so lucky when I started kindergarten because I had a friend my age who took the bus with me (though she was in a different homeroom and I barely saw her once at school.) But I think lots of kids don’t know anyone in their class when starting out. And kids tend to be super friendly when they are little. So hopefully she’ll have great new friends in no time.

  6. These are all really great and important things to discuss. Your daughter looks super cute in her adorable outfits. She also looks very ready and excited for school. I can tell she going to have a good time 🙂

  7. My youngest is going to be attending kindergarten this school year and it’s really important that I prepare her mentally so she won’t feel overwhelmed. These are awesome tips!

  8. These are awesome tips for going back to school! Such a good way to ease the transition. And her outfits are super cute!

  9. As a retired school principal, I love your list! School supply shopping is another way to build excitement for the new adventure!

  10. This post really brought back fond memories of when my kids started Kindergarten. These are superb tips to discuss with kids who are starting school for the first time. It can be exciting and a little scary too.

  11. These are some great tips! My daughter has just finished her second year in school. Most schools here have a gradual introduction into Reception (kindergarten) where the children just go half days or every other day for the first few weeks. It’s great for kids to get used to a new routine and break them in gently!

  12. My 5 year old son will start kindergarten next week and its a bitter sweet feeling for me. I’m not sure about him, but I’m definitely not ready for him to start kindergarten. The post is so helpful though.

  13. I am so glad that you teach your daughter about stranger danger because it is such a common issues in schools and some might not recognize the signs. Also on another note her outfit is gorgeous she is so stylish x

  14. She’s adorable and what a little model! I know I would not have cooperated that well for photos at her age. The outfits are so great.

  15. These are all great topics to discuss. I know that when starting a new routine I like to explain things with my kids as well.

  16. Yes, it’s so important to have these conversations with our little ones. It helps set their expectations and opens the door for future conversation. Great tips!

  17. These are great tips. We have two adult daughters. I can remember kindergarten being very different for both of them. One struggled a great deal, while the other had no issues at all and was happy to go. Funny how different kids are even when they are siblings. It feels like a lifetime ago for me know.

  18. These are excellent tips. I did most of these things when my older kiddos when to public school. Now we are in the homeschool phase with our youngest. It will take extra self-discipline, especially with new bedtime and wake-up routines.

  19. These are wonderful ideas. Introducing some of the new concepts early is very helpful. I do think it also helps to have a friend or two going into school at the same age.

  20. This is so sweet, your daughter is adorable. Our son starts Kindergarten on the 13th and he’s super excited! He’s so excited that he will be riding the school bus 😉

  21. Perfect timing for back to school. Oh how I miss the kindergarten days. I have an 8th grader and it seems like it was just yesterday. One thing we did was I gave my son a shiny penny to keep in his pocket. I told him to put his hand in his pocket and rub it and when he did to think of me. Worked like a charm!

  22. Such great tips! Kindergarten is such an important time for kids to feel confident and ready for the big transition!

  23. Your daughter is adorable! I think finding another child in the neighborhood who’s starting school is a great idea. That way they see someone they’ve met before!

  24. I love your tip about introducing your children to others in the community before school. It’s so important to make REAL local connections in this highly digital world!

  25. Seems like summer break just started but here we are again with school getting ready to begin again. These were some great tips for getting kids ready to start kindergarten. Plus there can be a lot of anxiety during this time for parents too and a lot of your suggestions can be beneficial for getting adults ready for change too

  26. Kindergarten is such a huge step. It’s great that you are going to discuss all of this with your daughter. It helps kids be better prepared for what is to come.

  27. With 2 kids in pre-K I’m hoping that I can avoid some of the kindergarten anxiety. I do think it is a great time to revisit some of the rules and do’s and don’ts of strangers etc.

  28. Starting school can be such a huge change for kids. I’m lucky that both of my girls really love school. It was tough at first when they first started because they had a hard time, but eventually they started to love school.

  29. My oldest starts kindergarten two weeks from today, too! I never thought about explaining that there will be kids much bigger than him there. He was in preschool for 3 years, but that was only 3 half days per week, now he will be in 5 full days (kinder is full days here). He is so excited and already wanting to practice getting up earlier and getting ready for school. We did kinder roundup a couple of months ago and next Thursday we get to go to the school to find out his teacher, meet her, and see his classroom.

  30. This are amazing tips. I remember when my girls were starting Kindergarten. So many memories. I think it was harder for me to come to terms that they were going to school than it was for them. LOL.

  31. Discussing stranger danger is a must. Kindergarten is a part of a much larger environment than preschool classes. I will keep these tips in mind when my girls go to kindergarten a year from fall!

  32. She certainly looks ready and excited for this new milestone! I hadn’t considered how important this conversation is, but it’s clearly a huge change for a child that can be very confusing. The article is brilliant and it’s really going to help me when the new school year starts!

  33. Not yet a parent myself but definitely the reminders Ill keep in mind when I become one! Oh and your little one is so adorable!

  34. My youngest is starting Kindergarten next week at his dad’s house. My youngest daughter who is going into the 2nd grade gave him a talk earlier this week, some “tips” she said, of how Kindergarten works. It was the sweetest thing ever. He’s lucky to have a sister and brother in 2nd and 5th grade. So they will ride the bus together, and they’re aware of stranger danger.

  35. My son is going to be starting kindergarten here soon. As you said here, there are many things that we should go over with him prior to him starting. I think that implementing the new bedtime and wake-up times will be the most important to start as I know now, they are not a set time.

  36. These are great ways to prepare! We made sure our kids had plenty of ways to socialize, and they went to preschool as well. It is good to get kids in a routine and ready for school.

  37. Totally using these tips for my two preschoolers this year and saving them for next year when my daughter starts Kindergarten. Especially about making them know the plan for so many different things!

  38. Some great tips!
    Talking to them and telling them what is going on and what is going to happen is so important! They may be little but the do understand.

  39. Totally agree with you. It is very important that you visit the school ahead of time. It gives you and your child the “feel” if he or she is ready for the big school. I remember my parents doing this with me and it made things easier.

  40. These are fantastic tips! I am saving this for the future! My daughter starts preschool soon, so we have done some of these to help prepare her and she is so excited to start!

  41. All great tips. And her back-to-school “fashion shoot” was adorable. Been there, done that, but it still saddens me that you (and a few years ago, I) are casually referencing the homework they had in preschool and will probably get sooner than they should (for my kiddos, it was first grade…)

  42. great tips all.. and now that my kids are older (one high schooler and one middle schooler) , i also have realized every phase requires similar such tips that we can give them (and sometimes it is the older sibling helping which is wonderful!)


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