During the first few weeks of kindergarten, Abby's mom is surprised to see her normally outgoing daughter hanging back from the group, watching more than engaging. Though she's concerned something might be wrong, she and Abby's teacher allow the little girl to take her time about joining the play, confident that she will when she is comfortable. Sure enough, Abby finds another quiet little girl only a few days later, and they are soon happily talking as they share crayons and blocks.
The start of kindergarten offers a heap of new and wonderful experiences: a new classroom, teacher, toys, materials — maybe even a class pet. It's certainly exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. Many 5 to 6 year olds have never been in a class this large, which can be intimidating. With all of this newness, your child may be shy and keep to herself at first. But don't worry — as soon as she's settled into the new routine, she'll make friends at light speed.
At the beginning of the year, children have just started to settle into the new atmosphere, schedule, and group of people. For some kids this is a longer or more structured day than they have experienced before. Your child needs time to learn the rituals and routines and to explore the classroom before he can start to make friends. Don't be surprised if he seems to regress in his behavior with others. He may have come from a smaller preschool where he already had friends; now he has to start all over again with a new and larger group. It is important to be patient. Don't expect your child to step into class at the same level he left the other.
Kids often feel more comfortable in a new group if they recognize a familiar face. If it's possible to find out who your child's classmates are before school starts, it can be helpful to invite one or two over for a playdate during the summer. Further playdates once class has started are a great way to speed a friendship along because the one-on-one time the kids share together carries over into the larger setting.
When it comes to fives and sixes, it's important to remember that your child may still be self-focused. He may be more interested in his own play than that of others and decide to stick with his own game even if a classmate asks him to play a different one. But that's not a bad thing — your child is not trying to hurt anyone's feelings, and he'll most likely join in as soon as he's interested. Have patience during this time of change, and support your child's budding awareness of the joys of friendships.