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Kindergarten

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The Purpose of Kindergarten

It's pretty common when you are starting to prepare your preschool child for
that first day of kindergarten for her to ask you, probably with tears in her
eyes, "But Daddy, why do I have to go?" And while you have your parent answers
to give her and you will obviously refocus her attention on how fun it will be
and how it will be her next step toward "being a big girl", you might ask
yourself that question as well. It's important that dad and mom have a firm
idea of what kindergarten is all about as well so you can do a good job of
preparing your little one for this big step in life.

It is a mistake to see kindergarten as a huge academic leap into the future.
When parents pour so much energy into preparing their children to excel
academically before heading off to kindergarten, they miss the point of this
important year of school. Moreover, by "prepping" the child for school as
though this first year was going to be their freshman year at MIT, you create
even more stress and anxiety because the child begins to think they are going
to walk into a situation of high stress. The result is the child goes off to
kindergarten already stressed and far more anxious than is justified for this
first step out of the home.

Now this does not mean that preschool is not a good idea. Not only does
preschool give the child an early love of learning, it is also an excellent way
to help your child begin to acclimate to the idea of going to school out of the
home. And learning to go somewhere else and become part of an organized
curriculum is a big purpose of kindergarten. So preschool gently starts that
transition both academically and emotionally.

To a very large extent, the purpose of kindergarten is to help young children
begin that transition to a structured environment of school. If by the end of
this important first year, kindergarten children come to school happily, know
how to work with a schedule, sit at desks, listen to speakers, write things
down and take them home and then bring them back again the next day and walk
through the structured schedule of a normal school day, that is a huge step
forward in preparing your child for school life that will begin in first grade.

Yes there is a curriculum in kindergarten and simple lessons are taught. Very
often grades are not even kept or a child is given a good or passing grade just
for being in class, participating in the group activity and trying to work with
the program. The learning objectives that any kindergarten teacher will have
for this year of life with these first year students is heavily slanted toward
behavioral and social goals and not as heavy on academics.

The kindergarten teacher is a much different kind of teacher than any others
your child will meet in his or her academic career. You will find your child's
kindergarten teacher to be very interested in each child as an individual and
in helping your child make that transition away from living at home every hour
of the day and toward using a significant part of their day at school. Commonly
kindergarten teachers have special training in child psychology and are as much
counselors and guides as they are teachers of lessons from books.

Get to know the teacher of your child's kindergarten class. You will find she
is eager to know all she can about your child to achieve her goal of preparing
each kindergartner for the more academic years ahead. And if you are in sync
with those goals, you can reinforce the experience your child is having with
encouragement and interest at home. And working as a team, you and the teacher
will help your child have a wonderful and successful first year in school.

The Basic Skills of Kindergarten

Children love to learn. In the first years of life, there really is no
distinction between learning and play to a child and they get as much fun and
joy from learning new things as they do from any game they play. So the years
before kindergarten are a perfect time to use play time with you to begin their
path toward conquering some basic principles that will be very helpful to them
when they reach kindergarten.

Many children's games and books focus on helping your little one learn colors,
shapes and other basics that will be good to have a firm grasp of before they
reach kindergarten. You can make a game of knowing the color names and you will
be surprised how quick witted your child is and able to pick up not just the
basic 5-10 colors but many nuances of color as well. The same is true of
shapes. While a child may have trouble saying "octagon", don't underestimate
their ability to learn the names of the various shapes of their toys and blocks.

You can use play and reading time to also help your preschool child get a good
grasp of the alphabet, how the letters look and numbers and counting. These
will all be excellent basic skills of kindergarten that will make the step into
formal school easy and smooth for your child. In fact, it isn't out line to
expect that your preschooler could learn to sign her name and do some basic
letter shaping exercises before she starts kindergarten. How great would it be
for her not only to have these core skills and areas of knowledge well in hand
before school starts but to be able to start with that much confidence that she
is smart and ready for school? That kind of confidence translates into big time
success for any student starting on a big new adventure.

Along with using play time in such a productive way, there are many studies
that have shown without a doubt that reading to your child every day is one of
the finest ways to get them ready for school. If you read stories to your
little one and allow them to look over your shoulder, you will be surprised how
many words they will learn to recognize just from that casual time of loving
relaxation with mommy or daddy.

But reading is also one of the best ways to improve your child's vocabulary and
ability to speak clearly and expressively. Don't be surprised if you find your
child with books open early and often because you took the time to read to her
even before she starts at kindergarten. And that love of learning is something
that will stay with that child for the rest of her life. What a wonderful gift.

If your child loves to run and play as is very common in young children, you
can use that to help them develop strong motor skills which will help in dozens
of ways in school. Hand eye coordination not only will help your child do well
in gym and playing sports, it will help in learning to write and many other
related physical dexterity challenges that she will face in school.

By looking at many of life's simple pleasures that you enjoy in raising a
preschooler as also opportunities to develop your child intellectually,
physically and even socially in preparation for kindergarten, you are giving
your baby wonderful skills, knowledge and abilities that will pay off big when
kindergarten starts officially when she is five. And you will be thrilled to
see her naturally step into the formal school world so well and begin to
succeed because you took the time to get her ready well ahead of time.

Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten?

When we think of going into the "preparation mode" as that first day of
kindergarten approaches, the two areas we most focus on are the academic and
the emotional. If your little one has conquered shapes, colors, counting and
basic vocabulary, these are some of the academic skills that she should have as
she heads off for that first day of formal school. You may have given her some
home school or even preschool exposure to get those skills in place and all of
that was good preparation for this big day.

From an emotional and social point of view, the big change from staying home
with mom every day to being in an institutionalized setting is one that your
child will cope with better with some preparation. So letting her meet the
teacher, the other students, sit in on one day with you there and then have
time to role play or talk through what it will be like all will be very helpful
at reducing that feeling of disorientation that your kiddo may experience the
first day at school.

But there are other areas of competency that you would do well to gauge in your
child as she prepares for a day without you there to do everything for her. And
if you start developing those check lists in the last full year before
kindergarten, you have time to help your baby develop those skills well in
advance. For example, when your child goes to lunch at school, she will
probably go through a line to get her food, find a table on her own to sit with
relative strangers to eat and have to get through meal time without guidance or
encouragement. You can give her some of those experiences by eating at buffets
where you let her handle her own tray and even pick the table and "be a big
girl" by making all of the decisions.

The more independent your child becomes in that last few months before
kindergarten, the more that feeling of self reliance will pay off when school
starts. Being able to dress and undress herself is a basic skill that we work
on with our children. And while this will not be necessary at school, there may
be times when your child needs to go to the bathroom to adjust his or her
wardrobe. And not having to have a teacher there with him will make this a much
smoother operation.

The basics of being able to perform simple student tasks such as how to hold a
writing implement, how to draw the basic shapes, how to color a picture and how
to answer questions from the teacher without mumbling are things that can be
worked on well before the first day at kindergarten that will make that
transition much smoother for your child and for the teacher as well.

There are also mental or intellectual talents that your child can pick up just
from being part of your family but they will be of great advantage in school.
This includes being able to listen and understand a story and then ask
intelligent questions about it, being able to understand humor and even make
simple and appropriate jokes when the time is right in class and knowing the
fundamentals of alphabet, numbers and vocabulary that will equip the child to
start the curriculum at kindergarten without need for remedial help.

Observe and help your child develop the simple social skills of being able to
enter a room and meet new people, understanding authority and rules and
learning to live with them and making friends and identifying and avoiding
problem personalities in class. These are skills that will go a long way toward
facilitating a happy social life at school and learning to stay out of trouble
which is a lifetime skill your kiddo will need throughout a long school career.

By thinking through not only the academic but the physical, hygiene, social,
language and logical skills that are sometimes taken for granted, you cut down
on the surprises that wait for your child on that first day at school. And the
smoother that first day goes, the better her entire year at kindergarten will
go which will lead to a happy and creative attitude toward school and education
for life.

A Little Separation is a Good Thing

One of the things about a child going to kindergarten that is so new is the
feeling of being apart from mom and dad for the first time. For most infants,
one of the things they can count on the most is being able to be with mom or
dad, all the time. It's one of those constants that gives a young child that
sense of stability and safety from which she can explore the world.

So when that moment comes when the child will be going off to kindergarten, it
might be the first time that your child will be away from you for any
significant period of time. And that can cause anxiety for the child as well as
for mom and dad. But there are things you can do to prepare for that moment of
separation so the shock isn't so sudden and so the child can acclimate to the
new world of public school.

The key to reducing the anxiety of that big move to kindergarten is to "test
drive" separations from mom and dad in the year or so before kindergarten. Now,
it's fairly normal for a child to be with a babysitter for an evening. Often
this is grandma or the child spends the evening with other relatives with whom
there is already a fair amount of comfort and security. But you might think
about making these kinds of separations more frequent to where the child knows
he or she will be away from mom an evening each week indefinitely.

The importance of starting to make separations very routine is that you take
away the idea that any separation is a rarity and that the routine is to be
with you nonstop every day and every night. But at the same time, a very
important event happens each time you drop your baby off at a sitters and she
has a successful time away from the home. And that event is when you return to
your child, safe and sound and the child begins to understand that mom and dad
can go somewhere else, that they are safe while they are gone and that they
will come back and take her home.

While this may seem simple to you, it's a huge breakthrough to the child to
come to that realization. And that understanding is crucial because when your
baby goes to kindergarten, she will often wonder if mom and dad are alright. So
giving her the ability to visualize where her parents are and what they are
doing is tremendously helpful for her to feel secure that the world is a safe
place and everybody is where they should be.

Giving your infant the ability to "see you" when you are apart is a huge help
to that coping they go through as being separated becomes regular when she
starts kindergarten and goes there each day. You know you child can visualize
mom at home.

But if you also let her get a feel for dad at work and be able to "see" him at
his office after a nice visit or some time during "bring your child to work
day", then that coping becomes even easier.

By increasing the frequency and length of outings for your child during the
last year before kindergarten, her confidence will increase and she will
actually see times away from mom and dad as adventures and chances to do new
things and have more fun than ever. And when that enthusiasm for trying new
things is built up, then you have done a good job of reducing the impact of
separation and empowering your child to get out there and be a success in her
first year of school and every year thereafter too.

Separation Anxiety and Your Kindergartner

"Separation anxiety" is an emotional response that is so common when people are
removed from the familiar that it has a medical category for it. Along with post
traumatic stress syndrome and similar emotional and psychological ailments in
this category, it is at temporary emotional and psychological reversal caused
by the sudden change of who or what we are used to being around.

Separation anxiety is a syndrome that is commonly observed in caregivers who
are around a loved one for many months. Then when that loved one passes away,
there is a sudden shock of not having that company. But there are lots of
situations that can trigger separation anxiety including the empty nest
syndrome when children go off to college, sudden departure of a spouse even if
only for a short period of time or moving to a new town or job.

Probably the most common evidence of separation anxiety is in young children
who are heading off to school for the first time. Even if your little boy or
girl has been excited about that first day of school, when that time comes for
her to get out of the car and go into that room full of strangers, anxious
moments are very common. And the fact that they come along so suddenly can make
them even harder to deal with, for mom and for the kindergartner to be.

As with any problem, the more you can get out in front of it, the easier it
will be to handle when it comes up. The worst time to suddenly realize your
little one is having a bout of separation anxiety is just as she tries to walk
into the kindergarten room. So there is nothing like good old fashioned honesty
when you are trying to take the teeth out of a problem.

It might seem that "leveling" with a five year old is a good idea. And it's
true that when talking about anything unpleasant or new with your youngster,
you must handle the conversation lovingly and carefully. But it's good to let
your child know well in advance of that first day at kindergarten that mommy
will be leaving her there and this will happen every day. By telling your child
about what is going to happen, and specifically reviewing the feelings of
insecurity and loneliness that may happen, you are giving her some time in
advance to prepare for when the moment arrives.

There are some other very simple methods you can use to reduce the sense of
separation and disorientation your child may feel during that first week at
kindergarten. Most schools are very relaxed about letting mom bring the child
to school and hang around for the first half hour or so. Then when you see your
little one beginning to get engaged in the fun of being at school and starting
to make friends, you can ease out of the room so the transition is smooth.

Keep in mind also that a child can sense your anxieties. And there is a natural
sense of nervousness for your child and separation anxiety that mom will be
going through. But you are an adult so you can cope with it. Get your own
anxious emotions under control so you can pass your sense of calm and
excitement about her first day at kindergarten on to her.

You can also send a photo of you or of the whole family with your child for her
to keep in her notebook and feel you are always there. You might drop by for
lunch for a few days to also make the length of time she is apart from you less
stressful and help her with the transition. But the earlier you start preparing
your child that the transition is going to occur and the more little things you
do like letting her meet her teacher and other students in advance and role
playing being apart from time to time, the easier that transition will go and
the more successful you will be at reducing their anxiety of kindergarten and
helping your baby start that path toward greater independence as she gets used
to this first step, just going to kindergarten without mommy and enjoying it.

Day One of Kindergarten and No Surprises

Getting prepared for any big new event is all about eliminating the element of
surprise. That is why soldiers go to boot camp, why athletes practice for
months before competition and why actors rehearse nonstop before show day. And
it's what drives parents like you and me to start months, maybe years before
your child goes to kindergarten to remove any element of surprise in what will
happen that day and so you know your child is prepared in every possible way
for that day she walks into kindergarten.

Some of the aspects of that first day are easy to get ready for. You know your
child will need new clothes and probably more clothes because he or she will be
at school every day. You don't want your offspring to be embarrassed by having
to wear too many older items. So you might buy them the fashionable
kindergartner things so that first day is one of fitting in and looking just
like the other kids.

School supplies, medical forms, books and backpacks are all standard fare for
the first day of school and they always will be. So you will have ample
checklists either given to you by the school or from other parents who have
gone through this before. And your own child may become quite opinionated about
what he or she will need when that first day of school finally gets here. You
will want some level of common sense to go into the preparations for
kindergarten, particularly when it comes to the spending but at the same time
anticipation is part of the fun so you can afford to give in to it a little bit
just to make the event one of excitement and joy and not dread.

When the big day comes, you may even have gone through some drills with the
family on getting up, getting dressed, showers, breakfast, making the bed,
making lunch and when you need to be out the door to be heading toward the
school for the first big day. For you as a parent, the more that first morning
feels organized and like a well oiled machine, the more you feel like you have
removed every element of surprise from the morning.

Of course, it's always smart to have some flexibility in your ability to
respond to crisis. Even with the most well oiled machine and best preparations
possible, it's within the range of possibility something could go wrong. As you
move into the final exit for school, keep in mind that there is an emotional
element of this moment and your new kindergartner is watching you for how you
react to sudden change.

So be prepared to react calmly and maybe with some humor if something goes
wrong. Remember, if you are late or, god forbid, your child doesn't make it at
all to that first day, she can still show up on the second day. Kindergarten
classes and their teachers and administrators are well acquainted with the
jitters and things that happen to parents so don't panic if something goes
wrong. By not freaking out if there is flat tire, a sudden outbreak of nerves
related hives or some other "crisis", you are teaching your child to handle
crisis when she is at school and you are not there.

So model flexibility and adaptability. After all, that is what sending your
child to kindergarten is all about for your child. And if you show your little
one that being prepared is always the right thing to do but being able to
handle change is just as important, she will be well trained to take on
kindergarten in good form and to go on to much success in first grade, second
grade and throughout her academic career.

Health Needs and Kindergarten

One of the fears parents often have of sending their children off to
kindergarten is the exposure to a public place where the protection of the home
is no longer possible. It is true that when your child goes to school with other
children, the opportunities for illness and contamination are much more
frequent. But the value of being in school with others and the social and
educational value mean that we as parents must prepare our children to begin to
spend time in a public place and that we do all we can to help them stay healthy
and safe each and every day.

Part of preparing your child to stay healthy even in a public venue like
kindergarten is to enlist the aid of your child's pediatrician. She can make
sure your kiddo is up to date on shots and that any vulnerabilities are well
known. A good check up and getting all necessary shots before school starts
will insure your child's immune system is well equipped to deal with the
additional exposure to germs.

But you can also teach your child good hygiene habits at home and engrain them
in her lifestyle so they will stick with her even when she is at kindergarten
and she doesn't have you there to protect her. This includes good bathroom
habits, an obsession with washing her hands as often as possible, being aware
of others who are sniffing and who may not be taking good care of themselves to
avoid contamination and using good table habits so the foods your child eats are
clean and safe for consumption at lunch.

Good lifestyle habits at home will benefit the child at school as well. This
includes a well developed schedule of getting at least eight hours of sleep
each day and a regular diet of all the major food groups, particularly fruits
and vegetables as these foods will give your child's body the defenses it will
need to ward off illness if there is an exposure to germs. Good dietary habits
will be something that is taught as well as enforced at home. You can send your
child a lunch to assure that at least she is taking the right kinds of foods.
But the best defense is to make sure your child is aware of her own nutritional
needs as it pertains to resisting illness so she also eats well when getting
food from the cafeteria and stays healthy and regular every day.

You don't want to send your child to school paranoid or afraid of other people.
But some simple rules of how to interact with others in a way that is social but
not risky should be part of your training as you raise the child. Just as you
know not to eat after someone else using the same utensil, not to eat anything
that has been on the floor or not to eat anything that you don't know the
origin of, these are basic health rules that children may not know if they are
not taught. So be a conscientious parent and equip your child to avoid
hazardous hygienic situations. Even if they are innocent dangers, they are
dangers none the less.

The health preparations for kindergarten includes things parents can control at
home such as check ups, getting good sleep and nutrition and gong to school
healthy and clean. But they also include things you teach your child so she can
keep herself safe and healthy even in the middle of a large group of other kids.
By giving her these skills from the first day of school going forward, you are
doing your job as good parents to assure she is ready for school each and every
day from kindergarten all the way through to college graduation.

Getting Used to People

A child between the age of zero and five lives in a protective bubble. And that
is a good thing because that little one needs to be surrounded by people that
she trusts and that love her and will protect her at all costs. But even if
that child has some siblings, those years are often relatively quiet and ones
in which the majority of the people that child knows are primarily dedicated to
one thing and that is satisfying all of her wants and needs.

Obviously this is not the kind of world that child will eventually live in. To
say that very young children are spoiled is stating the obvious but that is
natural and the way it should be. It is the task of older childhood and
adolescence to begin to reprogram your children to live in a world the rules of
social behavior are far more complex.

The first time your child will be exposed to that kind of environment other
than an occasional hour in the nursery at church or at day care will happen
when your little one begins kindergarten. There are a lot of surprises waiting
for her there. But one that kindergarten teachers know is going to be a huge
challenge is reprogramming those kids to the idea that everyone in that room is
not all about them but that they are there to be part of a larger society.

This will be quite confusing for your child and many days when she comes home
unhappy or upset about what happened at school, the heart of the problem will
be this orientation issue. So anything you can do before your child goes to
kindergarten to help your little one to learn to socialize in a larger circle
of people and in a setting that is more normalized than the one at home will
serve your kiddo well when those school days get underway.

Preschool is a great way to start that process early in life so much of that
socialization is well underway before kindergarten days arrive. But if that is
not an option or there are good reasons not to go the preschool route, you can
find situations of socialization in which you can have your child in a group of
many other children her age where there are some rules and the children have to
learn to get along.

Even if you do not work, day care has some value in this area. You may wish to
begin leaving your child at day care for an hour every other day starting
around the age of 3-4 just to give her some time with others her age to learn
how to behave in groups. This is a good approach because even if there are
problems, you are right back and able to take her home and talk through what
happened to help her make adjustments. And if she doesn't go back until a few
days later, she has time to process how to handle conflict and deal with
authority differently so she has more success on the next outing.

This little exercise is also a good chance for mom to get used to dropping off
her baby and leaving that child in the care of others to come back and pick her
up later. Not all of the adjustments about the start of kindergarten are on the
kindergartner because the parents also have some processing to do. And as you
get used to seeing your child go into a social situation and come out better
for it, you will be more confident. And your confidence will be picked up by
your child who will grow more socially adept and able to deal with the rules of
society long before kindergarten days get underway.

Getting MOM Ready for Kindergarten

When that first day of kindergarten is approaching, every effort is put against
getting the youngster heading out on his or her first big adventure out of the
home. There is a lot to do. Between meeting with the teacher, buying clothes
and school supplies and preparing the little one for the big challenge of being
away from mom and dad for a few hours to a day at school, it's a big step for
the kiddo and for the family.

But what is often overlooked in this rush to prepare for kindergarten is there
is a very important participant in the process who also needs to do some
preparing. That person is mom.

When you think of it that five years from the birth of that angel from heaven
until he or she walks out that door for kindergarten is a pretty intense period
of closeness and bonding. For virtually every waking minute of those years, mom
is aware of that child, helping her, taking care of her and keeping her safe
and healthy every step of the way.

Now the time has come to let that little one be away from home every day for
several hours a day and start the road toward independence. Mom wants the right
thing for her child and beginning the move to be her own person is the right
thing. But there are a lot of emotions and mixed feelings that a mother goes
through even in getting the little guy or gal ready for kindergarten much less
on the day you let that child go off to start that uphill road toward higher
education and success.

One of the people who can do a lot to help mom get ready for this big day is
dad. If he is a sensitive dad, he will be aware that there is going to be a lot
of anxiety and worry along with good old selfish desire not to let that kiddo
leave the house. But dad can be the voice of reason for mom and for that
kindergartner as both cope with the new way of life. By gently counseling mom
that the road to independence is what will make that child a successful young
person and eventually a healthy and well adjusted adult, that logic can filter
its way down to the emotional system and start to convince the heart that the
head in this case is right.

Other moms who have gone through this before are also a tremendous resource of
comfort and advice for how to get through that separation, especially those
first few days and weeks when the house seems empty and far too quiet. The
friends can counsel that mom on how to fill that time, on things she can do to
ease the anxiety like volunteering at the school and on the wonderful victories
that the family will celebrate together when the little one comes home from
kindergarten full of excitement about what she learned that day.

There are a lot of ways moms can get involved with the school to help out. That
energy being felt in emotions that you are going through because of the change
can be energies for good to benefit the school and to support your kids while
they are in class learning to become good students. There are programs like
Moms in Touch and volunteer organizations to benefit the library, to raise
funds for new furniture and equipment for the school and to help teachers buys
supplies.

If you channel those good energies of love and caring that used to be used only
to take care of that one child toward good causes like this, the school will
benefit and so will your child's teacher and her class. So in a way you are
continuing to nurture and care for that baby by nurturing the environment that
is making her a better person. And that is a good way for mom to get ready for
kindergarten before the little one goes off to school and each and every day of
this important year in your child's life as well.

Facing Kindergarten with a Little Help from Her Friends

For a young child, making friends with children her age is probably the most
important step in developing relationships outside the family that your little
one can do. Psychologists tell us that about the time most children begin to go
to kindergarten is also the time when they first begin to understand the
separation of the world from family and that relationships outside the family
are desirable.

When a child is in infancy, the entire world revolves around mom and dad and
her siblings. They want for little else and the love and approval of parents,
brothers and sisters is all that baby lives for. But it is about the age she is
ready to go to school that the interest in friends separate from family begins
to surface in most children. This is helpful because the development of
friendships at school will also be the one thing that will most ease the
difficulty from the life of living at home and going off to school each day.

You as parents can encourage your child in bonding with youngsters his or her
age long before you send that child off to kindergarten. Sometimes we as
parents can be a bit protective and see the home as a sanctuary where we want
to shelter our children for as long as possible. But while that is a natural
emotional reaction to parenting, particularly with your first child, you know
intellectually that it is healthy for your youngster to develop friendships
outside the home and learn to socialize as soon as she feels ready to do so.

The first week that a child goes to kindergarten is a big step for a child.
Anything you can do to get her ready for the change in schedule, in food, in
what she will do all day and who she will be around will help your little one
adapt and succeed in school from the first day going forward. And for a very
young child to whom the security of knowing everyone and everything in the home
has been central to her sense of well being, any familiarity that can be
introduced to the classroom when you take her off to kindergarten will help
establish that classroom as a place of safety as well.

In a way, while you may not have thought much about it, if you have had your
child in play groups as an infant, that was a very good start. The more your
little one has learned to adapt to new people, to get to know someone different
from her and different from mom and dad and her siblings, the less that first
step into the world of education will be for her. One thing a child will learn
at playgroup is how to be outgoing. This is not a natural instinct in a lot of
children. While we are used to youngsters being "shy", many times that shyness
is just insecurity at not knowing how to go up to another child and make
friends.

By including as many new people in the playgroup experience and also
encouraging your child to interact with others within the family, at church and
at the park, that feeling of security that making friends is a fun and rewarding
experience will be engrained in a child from their earliest experiences with the
world. And it will be a skill that will stay with them for life.

In addition, if you can do a bit of research to find out if a few of your
child's friends from playgroup are going to be in the same class at
kindergarten, you might even meet with the other moms before school and go over
together. When that small band of friends enters that new world holding hands,
they will feel secure in each other and that bond will enable them to open to
new people and new experiences. And when your little one is open to learning,
their experience in kindergarten will be fun and fulfilling for her and for you
because you enabled your child to go to school and make friends every day.

Ready for the Worst

If you are the kind of parent that plans ahead, then the first day of
kindergarten will not take you by surprise. When the big day arrives, the
clothes are all bought, the list the school gave you is complete, teachers
conferences are done and you may have even used the last few months before
school to help your little one bone up on the alphabet, on her numbers, shapes
and colors so that step into a formal educational setting will not be such a
shock.

It's like an invasion in a way. You are the General and you are preparing your
troops to invade a foreign land to achieve an objective. The difference is the
foreign land is not necessarily hostile, it's a kindergarten room. And the
teacher, administration and even other students there on that first day not
only don't want you to fail, they want to be your team to help your little one
do great. The other difference is your invasion force is not a seasoned team of
soldiers, it is that sweet little five year old boy or girl with a slightly
terrified look in his or her eye.

But like any good General, you do have to be prepared for the unthinkable. You
may make a lot of good speeches about how" failure is not an option". But any
parent who does not think about what can go wrong and how you will prepare for
it and respond is setting themselves up for a catastrophe in the event
something doesn't go perfectly. But if you are ready for the worst, then your
child can still have a great first day at school and get around the problem
that otherwise might have ended badly.

The first thing that springs to mind when it comes to accidents or something
that might go wrong is with the wardrobe. In all the excitement and nervousness, 
if your child spills either on the way to school or during school and soils her 
garment to where it is not suitable for using the rest of the day, you might get 
that phone call to come and get your child.

You don't want to have to take your child out of the classroom until it is
absolutely necessary. You put so much time and effort into building up this big
day that to your little boy or girl, if they have to leave the school during the
day, it will seem like a tragedy even if it's only for the day. The solution for
the wardrobe problem is one you may have already thought of which is to send a
change of clothes. By keeping emergency clothing at the school in your child's
locker at all time, it is always there for her to change into and not see a
major disruption to her school day.

Another crisis that can come up at the last minute is the sudden emotional
meltdown of your child. If she becomes hysterical with worry or overwhelmed by
the newness of it all, it can be a serious issue if you in the drop off line
and you need her to go on in to school. This is not at all unlikely even if you
feel your child is not the kind of kid who melts down that easy. The build up to
the day and all the new cloths and the excitement can suddenly change course and
create an emotional train wreck as your child looks out of the car door at the
school door she must go through to start her new life.

But by having a plan, you can even deal with this. Often such melt downs are
temporary. You can pull out of the drop off line and park the car and comfort
the child. Above all don't make her feel badly. Then if she knows its ok, she
might recover and go on in. Worst case -- you walk her in. That is not a
catastrophe at all.

Your child must learn to cope with crisis. It is as much part of learning as
books and assignments. And if she takes her cues from you that there is no
crisis that cannot be adjusted to and no issue that cannot be solved, that will
be a source of comfort and strength on that first day of school and for every
day thereafter.




Making the Kindergarten Teacher a Friend and not an Enemy

One of the most natural reactions your child may have to meeting the
kindergarten teacher on that first day at school is to be intimidated and
afraid. The first day of school is a confusing and frightening experience
sometimes if your little one has not been out in structured public situations
before. The teacher will have a million things to think about and the top of
the list will be to teach the children to learn the rules and the structure of
school. And while there will be many days and weeks ahead for your child to get
used to school, its possible it all could be very overwhelming and your baby may
run home in tears that "the teacher hates me".

Of course you know that the teacher wants only the best for your child. With
time, the teacher will have time to spend with each child and that natural bond
will occur. But if the first impression your baby boy or girl gets is that the
teacher is their enemy and someone to fear, that bond may be slow in coming.
And if the new student gets the feeling that school is a scary place where they
are in danger, it could be the beginning of a lot of trouble with school down
the road.

So teaching your child that the teacher is not an enemy is very important to
her success on the first day of school and your child's success in school for
years to come as well. The first step in helping your child understand that the
teacher is a friend is just to talk about it. Sitting with your child and
visualizing together how that first day at school will be and seeing the
teacher as a protector, a guide and a friend will send the child off to school
with a good opinion of the teacher even before the class is called to order for
the first time.

It might be helpful to work with your child to understand the relationship
between authority and benevolence. You should work to help your child see that
even though the teacher is setting the rules and enforcing discipline in the
class, she is still the best friend and protector of the children as well. The
best example your little one has of this model is, of course, mom and dad. A
child has utmost trust and love for her parents. And yet she knows that it is
also mom and dad who set and enforce the rules and even punish when the kids
have been bad. By seeing that the role of rules maker and enforcer can be part
of being a caregiver, the child can transfer the affection they have for mom
and dad to the teacher and understand that role in class.

You can even take the next step in helping your child accept the role of
teacher in her life by looking for a chance to go to the school and even sit in
on a class just to watch what happens at school. Many schools are happy to let
kindergartners that will be starting next year sit in for a day, especially if
they are with mom or dad to help them feel secure. You will see some wide eyes
as your child absorbs all that goes on in kindergarten. Then you can use that
experience to answer a lot of questions when you get home. All of that is
outstanding preparation for what the child will experience eon their first day
in school.

By meeting the teacher, watching what happens in school and getting familiar
with the "idea" of kindergarten, you are getting out ahead of the problem of
fear and intimidation that is often big problem for children in their first day
at school.

The teacher your child will have in the fall will be thrilled to meet her and
begin making friends with your child right away. And that short time together
may be all it takes to change that teacher from an enemy to a trusted friend
and a face your child will look for as soon as she goes to kindergarten that
first week. And when your child sails through that first week at school, it
will because you took the time to get her ready to have a great time in her
first experience at school.

Making the First Day at Kindergarten a Big Event

Going off to kindergarten is a big deal to your child. For parents who already
have kids, big transitions in the lives of the kids is often taken for granted.
But to put in perspective in your life, an equivalent type of event in the life
of you as an adult might be a relocation to another country for a new job. For
your five year old, going to kindergarten is launching into a new world, a
world she has never known before. It is going to a place to do things she
doesn't know how to do, to be under the authority of strangers which is totally
new and to spend most of her day with people who are not her family.

When a child graduates from a phase in their lives like from high school,
college or even from elementary school, it is not uncommon to celebrate with a
big party and gifts. The purpose of the celebration is to commemorate the
successful conclusion of a formal phase of life and start of the next phase. We
want the child to come out of their completed experienced encouraged and excited
so they charge into the next challenge with gusto.

It might be time to consider the start of kindergarten in that same category.
In a way, starting school is the end of infancy. Your child is going off to do
something all by herself. She will take on challenges and conquer them. She
will have days when it seems it is impossible and then she will conquer those
fears and achieve the impossible. So you want to send your little one off to
kindergarten with that that its time to leave infancy behind and go into this
big new world of school with gusto, enthusiasm and ambition.

Making the start of kindergarten a big event puts the feeling of joy and
excitement around that first day in that new school. It is a "rite of passage"
that puts momentum around your child's growth from being a baby at home to
becoming a student. In our eyes kindergarten is hardly a big challenge. But in
your little one's eyes, it is just as big a step as any other transition you
have experienced. And that celebration gives her the momentum to overcome those
initial fears and go into the kindergarten classroom with excitement and
positive anticipation.

A party is always a good way to start out this new phase in life. Perhaps going
to your child's favorite restaurant would be a nice touch because she can invite
some of her friends to be there with her whole family to cheer and celebrate
this big day with her. While many children's restaurants are used to singing to
a child having a birthday, with some notification and letting the restaurant
know what you want, you can have the staff come out and sing a happy song with
a cake and ice cream to make this event memorable and fun for your soon to be
star student of the family.

You want this celebration to be special and not like every other birthday.
Presents might include extra fun school clothes, a new notebook, a fun backpack
or a jumbo crayola set in a special carrier that she can use to take it back and
forth to school. But by making this celebration full of laughter, song and joy,
you are sending a message to your little one that everybody appreciates what a
big deal starting kindergarten is and the whole family and all of her friends
are behind her 100% of the way. And your support in launching that child into
school so well will pay off when she comes home successful, happy and excited
about what she is doing in kindergarten every day.

Making Kindergarten Safe

Sometimes we are not even aware how much we do to protect our kids when they
are living at home. But when you are preparing your child to go out into the
world on her own for the very first time, all of a sudden it can get very scary
when you think of the many dangers out there. So one of the big jobs of
preparing for your child to go to kindergarten is assure your child's safety
while she is at school.

It's encouraging that, obviously, schools are designed to be safe places for
your kids. The rooms are prepared to have young children in them and the way
the children's days are organized, there really is no time when they are not
under the watchful eye of a caregiver. Schools are also more and more doing
aggressive background checks on the people who work at the school to make sure
there is no chance someone untrustworthy would have access to your child.

The trip to and from school is one that is often a big concern. The ideal would
be if you could drive your child door to door. If your child must walk to
school, take some time before the kindergarten year begins to meet parents of
other kindergarten age children in your neighborhood. If your kiddo can tag
along with a parent supervised group that is walking to school, that parent's
presence is often enough to make sure your child is safe.

But there is no question that safety begins with the child herself and the best
way to prepare your child to be safe is to teach her to think about every aspect
of safety throughout her day at school. The simple rules that were part of life
at home must become hard and fast law at school. Your child should know never
to pick up anything and put it in her mouth and to only eat things that she
either brought with her to school or that she buys from the school cafeteria or
are given to the class by the teacher.

You have to be diplomatic in teaching your child that accepting something to
eat from another child is not ok. From your perspective, you have no idea
whether what that other child is offering is safe, well prepared or might
contain illegal substances. Yes, this is a bit paranoid but being safe is far
better than being sorry later. So the rule of "no trading" when it comes to
lunch items must be reinforced well so it is high on your child's set of
guidelines for her day.

Now you don't want to scare your child or give her the idea that every adult is
an abductor and every other child a drug dealer. It is ok for your little one to
trust the adults at school and the other kids too but at the same time observe
basic safety precautions even with trusted kids and adults so she is never even
in a situation that could become dangerous.

Making it a rule to never be alone with another person anywhere is one way to
make sure your child is always being looked after. This assures that she is
never alone with an adult, including the teacher so if by chance someone
improper got through the system, there is no access for that person to talk to
or touch your child. But by stipulating that your little one makes sure she is
never alone even with another child, the kids have fewer chances to think of
activities that are not allowed and outside the range of acceptable and safe
activities.

It is also a hard and fast rule that your child must never go home with another
child or accept a ride from anyone without notifying mom first. Even if the
child is your little one's good friend, the two children must not be allowed to
"be creative" about their route home or what will happen after school. By making
sure your kindergartner knows the rules of safety well and observes them
religiously, you are doing all you can to make sure that when you send that
precious child off to school, you are continuing to protect her even when you
cannot be around her all the time.

Making Kindergarten Normal

Each year when a child makes that transition from months at home to going back
to school, there is always a transition. As adults we might compare it to that
feeling when we go off on two weeks vacation and then return to work. Except
the transition is much more difficult for youth because each year it is a new
school routine, new teachers and they have often been out of school for months,
not weeks.

But the transition from being a child in the home to the classroom is most
extreme for a very young child facing that first day at kindergarten. It helps
to think about that transition by trying to look at the challenge through the
eyes of your little girl or boy as much as you can. In most cases, being at
home with mom, dad, siblings and the family pet may be all that he or she
knows. Not only does it seem that the world revolves around family, the family
home is a place of comfort and other than brief outings, the world is not a
place that the child feels comfortable with yet.

So if you take your child to school for that first day and leave her there, the
environment she is now in could not be more strange to her than if you put your
child in the middle of the rain forest to fend for herself. Small wonder so
many children undergo extreme anxiety that first day of kindergarten when their
parents leave them to the first major adjustment of life and they are doing it
from a cold stop with absolutely no preparation whatsoever.

There is a lot you can do to make that first day they are stetting in the
classroom less strange to your child. By taking your child through some
preparation times in advance of the first day, you can do a lot to make the
idea of going to kindergarten normal to your child and to make that first day
seem more routine and even fun when she finds her desk and begins to listen to
a teacher for the first time ever.

Videos can help your child visualize school and be of tremendous help. Look for
children's videos that are appropriate to your little one's age that are
educational and above all fun and comforting to her as these videos picture the
on screen children in a school like setting. Many of the most popular children
oriented TV shows like Sesame Street and Barney will have videos to help with
this transition. Watch them together with your child and then afterward talk
about the day that will come when she will go off to school. In that way, you
are helping her process that such a thing is a reality and that she should
mentally prepare for that day.

You can also use playtime at home to help your child pretend to be in school.
You can arrange the play furniture you have in a classroom setting and put her
stuffed animals in the other chairs. Then you can be the teacher and simulate
how being in school might go. As you call on her stuffed bear to answer
questions or on her toy ducky to sit up straight, you child will laugh but also
be preparing mentally for when that is a real situation with
lots of other real children all around her.

Visits to the classroom that your child will attend and meeting the teacher are
also good steps toward making that transition. When you see your child actually
initiating going to school during play with her toys or with other children,
you will know that she is well on her way toward a smooth transition into
academic life, even if that academic life is at this time only kindergarten.

Making a Game of Getting Ready for Kindergarten

If you have a child under five, you have already watched many amateur
productions of plays that were composed entirely in that sweet little mind.
Role play and acting scenes out just seems to come naturally to children.
Perhaps it's because they see it on television and videos. But it's more likely
because children just naturally have strong imaginations and creating alternate
worlds and then making them come to life is just a natural part of being a
child.

We see this kind of play happen nature when we witness bear cubs or even
kittens in our own homes as they seem to be all about play every day. But there
is a reason for their play. Often the games they "play act" are their way of
trying out hunting, stalking, fighting and even running away. In the same way
our own children use their creative imaginations to "play act" scenes in life
that they will one day encounter for real In that way, nature seems to have put
it into babies of every species to use play to get ready for life.

As parents, one of our great joys is to join our children in play. We get to
sort of "become children" ourselves all over again for a while which is great
fun. And if we think its fun for us, just watch as grandma or grandpa get down
on the floor and suddenly become five year olds for a while. The only shame is
one day our young ones will grow up and then we can't play with their toys any
more.

This impulse to act out scenes of life that they will eventually grow into is a
wonderful resource you can use to begin to prepare your child for kindergarten.
Very often, even though they may not know they are doing it, children use this
skill to cope with fears about life and changes that may be on the way. So you
can use kindergarten skits and games to help your child feel less frightened of
that big change and even come to see the coming of kindergarten days as a time
of fun and excitement so when it gets here, she welcomes it with glee rather
than with dread.

You can set up a mini kindergarten room in your living room using play chairs
from your child's toy table and using stuffed animals to be the other students.
The lessons can be silly things at first like the plot of the Wizard of Oz or
the names of all of her My Little Pony dolls so your child gets to jump up and
yell, "I know teacher, pick, me!" and begin to experience the thrill of being
recognized publicly for being smart, even if the public are stuffed bears and
Shrek characters.

Once your little one sees how fun it is playing school, you can begin to do
more to make the game more realistic by implementing a schedule with a time to
lay down her head, a time to draw, and a daily schedule including "single file
to the lunch room" and back. These will be fun games that will get a giggle
from your child but also introduce these concepts in a fun way so when they
happen for real when she starts kindergarten, they wont be frightening but have
an association of playtime with mom.

By taking the time to play out what will be happening in kindergarten, you can
prepare your child for all of the aspects of school she can expect. Its an
outstanding exercise and you can take her through it without ever letting her
know that this is a big part of the "work" of getting ready for school, even
though to her its just a game.

Making Kindergarten Fun

A preschool child takes his or her signals from people around them, and most of
the times that is mom and dad. In almost every situation, the child watches you
to see if this is a good time to laugh, to cry, to pray, to be serious or to be
afraid. Just watch your little one when you are out in an unfamiliar situation.
Her little eyes will be glued to you and when you react a certain way, she will
immediately react that way too.

So the influence you have on your child's attitude about her first year at
school will be driven to a very large extent by your attitude. If you are
nervous or anxious about this big step, your child will go into the first days
in kindergarten tense and serious too.

Of course, you know the importance of shaping your child's attitude toward
school. You want them to take school seriously. In a strange way, in order to
get your child interested in school, especially in this important first year,
you have to lift the pressure and speak of them about kindergarten in their own.

And the orientation of any child in the months leading up to kindergarten can
be sized up in one word -- fun. We often underplay the importance of fun and
even scoff at how much value a child places on fun even in going to school.
"Fun" is a code word for a child. It means more than just a child's desire to
play in a frivolous way. In other contexts, "fun" means the child wants to be
engaged, challenged, become part of a process, loved, feel safe and feel joy
about what he or she is doing. So when a child complains that something "isn't
fun", it might just mean that the activity is frightening or fails to connect
to them on their own terms.

Learning to listen to your child is a big step in helping them get ready for
all of life's challenges including this big step into kindergarten. So the more
you can do to make their first days in kindergarten fun will be of tremendous
value in helping your child want to go to school and overcome their feelings of
anxiety and stress about doing something new and a little scary.

The best way to make kindergarten fun for your child is for you to have fun
getting her ready for the event. The process of buying new clothes and school
supplies can be great fun for parent and child so if you take your little one
with you and let him or her make choices about those new clothes, about the
kind of notebook they will take and about their lunch pail or carrier, those
things will have special meaning to them and the child will be excited to put
them to work.

Talk up the fun your child is going to have at kindergarten. By emphasizing
that they will get to play lots of games and make lots of new friends at
school, they will take that clue from you and go into the new experience
looking for new friends.

The more engaged you are in your child's school experience, the more he or she
will see this as a big adventure and go off in the spirit of joy and fun to
"discover the world" because they know mom and dad will be waiting eagerly at
home to hear all about their big day.

Giving your child the spirit of fun and adventure about going to school is
probably the best gift you can give her and the best way you can prepare your
little one to take on the challenges of school. And if your new student goes
into school looking at it as a big fun outing, each new assignment will be
taken on with creativity, mental energy and personality and that will naturally
give her success in everything she does at school. And as success leads to more
success, before long you will have a child that loves school and goes there
with energy and enthusiasm throughout kindergarten and on into first grade and
up and up in the latter of success in the academic world.

When in Doubt, Go Shopping

For some reason in our culture, one of the best ways to create excitement and
fun around an upcoming event is to go shopping. And when it comes to getting
your son or daughter ready for kindergarten, it seems natural that there are
going to have to be at least one or two fun outings to the mall to get ready
for the big day.

We tend to think of mom and daughter as the ones who will get a big kick out of
shopping. But if you have a little boy who is a bit giddy about that first day
at kindergarten, that shopping trip can turn the first day in school into the
equivalent as the fall version of Christmas. That is because the one universal
things kids love to do is spend their parent's money and find ways to get
things bought for them. And if the entire purpose of the trip is to buy things
for the child, even if it is just clothes and school supplies, the fun of going
to the store and making those choices adds to the electricity of the coming of
that first day to go to school.

While it is up to mom and dad to keep some balance and common sense to this big
shopping trip, it's a nice time to include the kiddo so that he or she can have
the fun of picking out the new things that will be needed the first day at
kindergarten. While it might be tempting to go out and buy everything for the
child and spring them on her the night before school, you can get so much more
mileage in terms of excitement and anticipation about going to school by taking
the child with you to pick out everything from that new dress to the color of
the pencils and the type of backpack she will use.

This will be the first of many shopping trips in preparation for school and you
will immediately be faced with many decisions when it comes to clothing.
Naturally as a parent, you want practical clothes that are very durable and
maybe a bit too big so the child can grow into them. Your child, however, may
have very different opinions about what to buy. While you would not think that
a five year old would have a sense of fashion, when you hit the stores you will
find that there are a lot of designs built around popular children's show
characters that will draw your child's attention.

It might be good to have a little talk with the child about spending limits and
that mom or dad have the final say in what is bought. But be a bit flexible and
let your child have some fun clothes. Not only will it help him or her fit in
at school which helps with overcoming that sense of alienation and loneliness,
it will create excitement and enthusiasm about going.

Wouldn't you far rather see your child spring out of bed full of excitement
about going to that first day at kindergarten because she is going to be able
to wear her new dress or he will get to show off his Spongebob backpack? Its
not bribery if you are just using the purchase of things they already have to
have to help them get more excited about going to school and to get them off on
the right foot.

You can use the event of shopping to build anticipation for that first day by
going on more than one trip. You can have mom go one day and get the clothes
and then dad go out another and get the backpack. Additional trips might
include and outing to get school supplies or even letting the little one go to
the grocery store to have a say in what goes into lunch each day. The more they
can participate, the more fun it will be and the more ownership your child will
have over this exciting first day at school. And if that ownership translates
into success, that is what everybody wants.

Kindergartners With Cell Phones

As your child gets ready to go out in the world, maybe for the first time when
you send her off to kindergarten, one of the top concerns any worried mom or
dad has will be about security. And while most schools are run by qualified
education professionals and campuses are secured, it might give you a greater
sense of security if you were able to "arm" your child with a cell phone "just
in case."

Of course that desire to let your little boy or girl carry his or her own cell
phone to kindergarten may be more related to moms insecurity about being out of
touch with the child for several hours. If you know she has a phone on her and
knows how to use it, at least you know she can reach you if she needs to hear
your voice and that you can reach her if you need to know your baby is doing ok
especially in those first days and weeks at kindergarten.

Giving your child a cell phone to carry in his back pack or her purse may seem
like a simple and harmless little step that will give the child and mom and dad
some sense of connection and security during the day. After all, who would even
know that it's there? It's a tiny device that wouldn't bother anyone. But if
your baby needed to call home during recess, it would be there. Not only that,
if there was an emergency where you needed to reach your family, you want them
instantly accessible and a cell phone makes that possible.

But there are some reasons to think this decision through in a little more
depth. If you have not equipped your five year old with a cell phone so far, it
will be a toy and something new to figure out if you give it to her and pack her
off to school. Children are fascinated by technology and the odds that your
little one will have that cell phone out during the day, playing with it and
possibly distracting the other children with it are pretty good.

But even if your child is used to carrying a cell phone, you should check the
rules at the school before giving your kindergartener one before sending her
off to school. Many schools have rules about the children bringing any form of
electronic device into the classroom. This is so the teacher doesn't have to
fight a battle with kids who would rather fool with electronic toys than pay
attention. So if that is a rule that is you're your child's kindergarten class,
you don't want to create a situation where she could get in trouble.

There is a rule we teach our kids not to take anything into a public place that
they would hate to lose. And a cell phone would be a device that would be very
attractive for other kids to want to play with, to "borrow" for an hour for the
day or for the week or to out and out steal so they can have their own phone.
And if that happens, your child will be devastated and outraged and it will
become a major incident for you, the child and the school to deal with that
really never had to happen.

Realistically, no kindergartener needs a cell phone at school. If your child
had one and it was unusual, she would appear to the other children like a
spoiled child and possibly be isolated because of jealousy or resentment in the
other kids. There are other ways to help your child get over that sense of
separation and isolation from you. In fact, the one thing you want from this
first year at kindergarten is for your child to start the path toward
independence. Giving her a cell phone only slows that process.

So while it is a huge temptation to give your child this simple and inexpensive
device, for the most part it is probably a temptation worth resisting. By having
her leave it home, you prevent a lot of problems that could happen. And you
teach your child self reliance. And that is one of many great lessons you want
your kiddo to learn at kindergarten.

Doing Your Part in the Classroom

For many moms the idea of driving up to a big scary elementary school and
dropping off their child for kindergarten can be pretty frightening. And in
preparing for kindergarten, getting your child ready for that moment of
separation can be one of the most difficult things to do. That is why a great
option for a lot of moms is not to completely separate from the child in their
first weeks of kindergarten but to be an active parent and get involved
volunteering at the school even in the summer before kindergarten gets underway.

Kindergarten teachers are notoriously under funded and often depend heavily on
the help of parents both to get ready for the school year and during the year
to serve as "classroom moms" to help out with children who need to go to the
bathroom, who get sick or to coordinate activities in the classroom and during
field trips. If you take the initiative toward the end of the school year
before your little one goes to kindergarten and meet the teacher who will be
your child's first teacher in life, that teacher will love meeting you and your
child too and getting a head start on making friends with her.

That one step alone is worth its weight in gold because by meeting the teacher
that your child will have in kindergarten, she will have a friend and know that
when she goes into that room, the person in charge is nice and is looking after
her best interests. But don't just let your meeting with the teacher go with
just a meet and greet. If you let her know you want to do all you can to help
her get ready for school and then be a classroom mommy during the school year,
that will also be a big help and that teacher will happily take you up on the
offer.

During that last month of summer as the first day of kindergarten approaches,
that teacher will mobilize "the troops" to get ready for class. There will be a
lot to do to get the room fixed up and decorated and to prepare all of the
materials for the different games and lessons that will be taught in the first
weeks and months of class.

By being a volunteer mom, that teacher can look to you to come down to the
school and help with the preparation process. Moreover, you can take your
kindergartner-to-be with you and she can help get the room ready too which will
make her feel engaged and encourage a sense of ownership about what is about to
happen in school. Your child can interact with the teacher and other adults or
children who are there to help prepare for the year and that is a nice way to
ease into the step of going to school officially when classes begin.

When classes start formally, you will already have a relationship with the
teacher and you can be in class to be the eyes and ears and loving hands to
help out with all the kids. You should be ready to be a mom to the whole
classroom when you volunteer at your child's school. But because you are in
class off and on in those first few weeks especially, your youngster will have
that sense of comfort and security seeing you around which will then naturally 
transfer a trust in authority to the teacher and the school.

As the year goes on, you can slowly reduce your classroom presence based on
what the teacher needs. You can still volunteer in the library or to help out
the school outside the classroom so your child still sees you on campus. But
this is an excellent way to ease your child into the new setting providing that
sense of security of having mom nearby but slowly getting used to the idea that
kindergarten is a safe place, a fun place and a place where she can learn and
excel even when mom isn't around. And that is an exciting transition to watch
your little one go through.

Computers for Kiddos

Going to kindergarten in this new age is a lot different than it was when we
were children. Modern children are more aware of the adult world, more
sophisticated and certainly more aware of technology and the internet than was
imaginable even a few years ago when that youngster was a newborn. So we have
to take that into consideration when we begin to prepare a child for
kindergarten because there is really no level of schooling that is untouched by
computers and technology.

The first step for finding out how much your child needs to know about
computers and the internet day one in kindergarten is to visit the school and
talk to the teacher. It really isn't a matter of kids being forced to learn
about cyberspace. Schools are simply using the internet for teaching because
kids are showing up already knowing all about it. As you look around any modern
kindergarten class, you will see dozens of computer kiosks so the kids can
connect to the internet and use the internet for anything from research to
communications to learning games to exploring the galaxies.

So much is made about the dangers of the internet and those are certainly real.
But there are tremendous resources that the kindergarten teacher will take
advantage of to take that new class to wonderful new places using safe and
carefully prepared web sites that can enhance the child's education.

The next step is to find out just how much your little angel already knows
about computers and the internet. If you have a computer and you allow your
child to wander around the internet already, she may know more than you
imagined or wished she knew. But by having a conversation with your child or by
sitting online and exploring some basic web sites together, you can gauge her
level of skill and knowledge. It will be an unusual meeting between parent and
child because its very possible that at times you will be teaching her things
and other times she will be the teacher and you the student learning the most
modern things that young people, even very young people like your child,
already know about the online world.

Be sure when you begin to expose your youngster to the internet that you have
also made sure the internet is a safe place for her to be. You can create
specific account on your computer just for your child that is heavily
restricted. You can get some excellent tools that are often called "net
nannies" which will keep your sweet innocent child from accidentally going to
sites they should not see. You can even set up a set list of web sites you will
allow them to be on and restrict their browser so only those sites are
authorized.

Helping your child build internet search skills will jump start her into the
modern world of school wonderfully. But there are other computer skills that
being online will help her develop to make her more efficient even in this very
basic level of schooling at kindergarten. If you can open the world of email,
instant messaging and chat to your child on kid safe web sites where she will
be talking to other children only, your five year old will actually develop
fairly well developed typing skills being motivated by the fun of online
conversation with other kids.

There are other computer tools that will of tremendous value to your child that
she can begin to get exposure to in the months leading up to kindergarten. The
Microsoft office suite which is so useful to adults will be an important tool
set for any student even in elementary school. Learning to use the powerful
resources of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint will give your child ways to
accomplish their school assignments that are fun because they are on the
computer and so much more efficient than the old pencil and notebook method.

By thinking like a twenty first century parent, you can start even at the
kindergarten level to see your child's school experience as one that will be
heavily influenced by computer skills and the internet. And by equipping your
child to be ready to use those tools from day one at kindergarten, she is
jumping into school way ahead in terms of being equipped to be a big success in
her academic career.





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