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Starting kindergarten is an exciting experience for a young child – but it can also be a difficult one. Whatever the personality of the child, however eager he or she may seem to be for the new situation, there will be a moment when the child suddenly realises that you are not going to be there. The fear that accompanies this realisation is a normal reaction. Most children have little difficulty adjusting to kindergarten after they have made an initial visit with the parent. Nevertheless it is important to introduce the child to the kindergarten in a way that makes this first separation from the parent as easy – and painless – as possible.

Here are our suggestions

Introduce the child gradually to the kindergarten and its program.

Generally we suggest the child comes for 2 or 3 brief visits, followed by a short time with the class group, say 1- 2 hours. This can then be gradually extended to 2-3 hours (say half days) and so on. On the child’s first day, a parent or close person e.g. babysitter should be with the child, if not in the classroom, then nearby in case comfort is needed. This may need to be maintained for a few days until the child has completely settled in the classroom. Your class teachers will keep you informed of progress.

Adults who stay should gradually move out of the classroom.

It’s a good idea to bring a book or magazine to keep yourself occupied rather than focusing all your attention on your child’s behaviour (or crying!)

Never sneak away or leave suddenly without first saying goodbye!

After saying goodbe, leave! Don’t come back for another kiss, hug or goodbye! It is perfectly natural and normal that your child cries at the moment of separation, after realising that Mummy or Daddy has gone. From experience this crying rarely lasts more than a few minutes after the parent is out of sight. Sometimes, children who have stopped crying, or who have not cried all morning (or day) may start again when the parent(s) comes to call for them. This is perfectly normal!

If the separation seems to be unusually prolonged or difficult, arrange to have an adult other than the parent bring the child to kindergarten in the morning.

From experience the separation pains usually take place only with the parents, especially the mother. After being brought in a few times by someone other than the parent, the child should face the separation with ease.

Try picking up the child a little earlier during the first few days of kindergarten.

Sometimes the child does fine until other parents arrive for their children. Apprehension may then begin as to whether the child, too will be picked up.

Starting in a new kindergarten environment is a big change for a young child.

It represents a significant period of adjustment in their short life. Try to gently prepare them for this by explaining the new routine and daily programs. Sometimes on the first day the child will be so absorbed with all the new environment and toys that there won’t be any awareness of being separated from the parents. This should be accepted as a normal part of a child’s development in learning to accept change and being away from home.

Try to appeciate that your child’s emotions are similar to your own!

During these first few days of kindergarten try to devote extra time to your child, extra personal (physical) contact and love. Do not try to question your child too much about what he or she did during the first days of kindergarten. Allow these few days to be gentle, casual and non-threatening by not constantly reminding the child at home.

For any further questions about this important subject please see your class teacher or our School Director, Mrs. Suzy Jones.