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Starting Kindergarten: How to Prepare Your Child

by Maya Cohen

It's hard to predict how a child will handle separation on the first day of kindergarten. Some kids will cling to their mom in terror, while others will skip happily off without even a parting glance in mom's direction. If your child leans toward the former behavior, don't be alarmed. Starting kindergarten is big step for children, and the anxiety they experience is a perfectly normal part of the developmental process. Nevertheless, there are ways you can make this transition easier for your child.

Discuss Kindergarten

In the weeks before school begins, discuss kindergarten with your child. Express enthusiasm and excitement at all she is going to learn. Try to evoke responses from your child to see how she may be feeling. Don't overdo it and don't force the topic, if your child is not interested or seems unwilling to discuss it. The main idea is to make kindergarten something exciting to look forward to, rather than something to fear.

Try Time Away from You

Before your child starts school, you can gauge how he deals with separation anxiety with a trial run. Try leaving him with a relative or close family friend, or suggest a sleepover at Grandma's house. See how your child reacts to being without you in a safe and supervised environment.

Set Up Playdates

Many schools distribute phone lists for each class of students before the school year begins. If you have such a list, try setting up playdates with your child's future classmates. That way, when your child walks into class on the first day, she'll see some familiar faces - her new friends.

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