Time to talk kindergarten

01/23/2014 8:00 AM

01/22/2014 3:51 PM

It may be only January, but I’m planning for the new school year.

In August, my daughter, Charlotte, will start kindergarten, and the school is holding a Kindergarten Round Up on Thursday .

This informative session and tour of the school is a great opportunity for her to begin the transition from preschool.

Leaving the friendly confines of preschool can be frightening for some kids. Saying goodbye to familiar classmates and entering a big, new school is overwhelming for some 5-year-olds. My son is a second-grader, so I have been through this once before. When he started kindergarten, one of his classmates cried every morning for four months.

This little boy clearly wasn’t prepared for his new school environment.

Parents can do a lot to get their preschoolers ready for starting kindergarten. First of all, talk openly and positively about starting kindergarten at a new school. Each time you drive by, point out your child’s new school and talk about how much fun it will be.

Remind your child of the friends or neighbors attending the same school. My daughter is upset she won’t join most of her friends in kindergarten.

I reassured Charlotte by introducing her to younger siblings of my son’s classmates who also will start kindergarten next year. Though they may not be in her class, at least she'll see some familiar faces in the hallways.

Another helpful approach: Start back-to-school shopping early. Since the school will require my daughter to wear a uniform, she needs to understand that Hello Kitty T-shirts will no longer be an option.

Now, when we go shopping, I make a big deal each time we buy a new navy polo shirt and khaki skirt. We even have a special place in her closet.

One big difference between preschool and elementary school is the early start time. Both of my kids always have been early risers, but I know many moms who struggle to get their kids out of bed. One mom I know complains she can barely get her son to preschool at 9:15 a.m., so she dreads the 8 a.m. start time.

If your child likes to sleep in, slowly shift their morning wake up time to an earlier hour. Starting this process now will be much easier than waiting until the week before school starts.

If your preschooler is starting kindergarten next year, check out your school’s kindergarten open house.

Getting your preschooler prepared now for elementary school will help ensure a smooth transition.

Danielle Hauser is a married mother of two who lives in the Westchase, Fla., area.

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