1. Every child is unique.
Even though you’ve been through the process of sending a child to kindergarten, it’s important to remember that every child is different. This time around, reactions and expectations may be worlds apart from the first time. Go into the process as if it’s your first time as well.
2. Tailor your responses.
Perhaps your second kindergartner will anticipate school the same way your first child did, and maybe not. Regardless, follow your little one’s lead:
- If she can’t wait to go: Encourage her excitement, but avoid comments like "That’s how your big brother felt when he went to kindergarten too!" Let this experience be hers, and hers alone.
- If she is nervous: Assure her that it’s okay to get butterflies because it’s something that she’s never done before. Tell her a few things she can expect. For example, if she loves to draw, tell her that she’ll get to do lots of art projects in kindergarten.
3. Ask — and answer — questions.
No doubt, your child will have questions about going off to school for the first time. Whether he asks them intermittently (a question or two while playing in the backyard, a comment during dinner, etc.) or he wants to talk about it at length (perhaps before bedtime one night), do your best to soothe his worries. Give simple, clear-cut answers and try not to respond with "When your sister started school . . ."
4. Have your oldest talk to your soon-to-be kindergartner.
Should you dispatch your older child to give advice to your younger one? That’s your call. If your prospective kindergartner is still very nervous about what to expect, having her big sister sit down and tell her stories isn’t a bad idea. And reassurance will certainly sound different coming from an older sibling than from you.
5. Find the best teacher.
If there is more than one kindergarten teacher at your child’s school, should you request the one that your older child didn’t have? That depends. It’s important for your younger child to have a kindergarten experience that is all his own. After all, it might be upsetting to be compared to his sibling. However, if you had a very positive experience with a certain teacher the first time around, your younger child would probably benefit from her professionalism.
6. Plan a visit.
Whether your child is excited or anxious, visiting the classroom and meeting the teacher before school starts is an excellent idea. Plan a trip to the school grounds to tour the classroom, the cafeteria, and even the restrooms. Even if your child has seen the school previously as a visitor, it’s nice for him to have an opportunity to get comfortable as a member of the school community. Playing on the playground is also a fun way for him to become familiar with his surroundings.
7. Read comforting stories.
Before bed, share a book that is about school, being brave, or starting something new. Your soon-to-be kindergartner will find comfort in courageous characters! Also, think back to books your older child enjoyed during kindergarten. Reading similar tales with your younger child will help prepare him for class story hour.
8. Send along a special something.
If your child is still feeling jittery as the first day gets closer, choose a photograph of you together or lucky charm that your child can keep in his pocket or backpack. Tell him that it’s something special to let him know that you’re thinking about him when he’s at school.