You're beaming with admiration at your preschooler's graduation from places like Kid's Country Child Care & Learning Center when all of the sudden you're hit with an overwhelming realization: you only have three months to prepare for kindergarten. While you're busy picking out backpacks and making sure your former preschooler has enough pencils, they're dealing with a whole set of unique struggles. Here are a few things you can expect from your preschooler during the summer before kindergarten, and what you can do to survive while helping them make this transition:
Is This My Child?
Is your once-polite, sweet and kind child all of the sudden turning into a tantrum-throwing monster that you hardly recognize? According to Barbara Meltz, a contributor to the Boston Globe, it's not uncommon for a preschooler to act out or have a sudden personality change in response to the pressure and stress of going to kindergarten.
In addition to throwing tantrums, here are a few additional ways your child might act out during the summer before kindergarten:
As a reaction to the stress of being a what they perceive as more "grownup," your little one might begin to regress and act like a younger child. They might begin sucking their thumb or not want to leave your side.
Your child might suddenly turn from a consistent user of "please" and "thank you" into the talk back kid. Once again, this is a reaction to stress.
Luckily, these common behavioral changes are often temporary, and before you know it, you'll have your sweet natured preschooler back. In the meantime, here are a few ways you can help your child work through their feelings:
Provide your child with a safe place to express their feelings. For example, if your child is acting out while at home, take them out of the situation and have a quiet conversation alone. Go for a ride through a favorite park or do another activity you both enjoy while you discuss what is making your preschooler so stressed.
Encourage your future-kindergartener's independence, but don't let them forget they're still your little one. Your child might perceive your insistence on them being a "big kid" as you not caring for them anymore. Bond with your child over activities you have enjoyed, such as reading a book or fishing.
Helping Your Child Feel Secure and Ready for The Big Day
The big day is fast approaching, and you've been having a lot of fun all summer – but now it's time to get serious. There's a chance your child's stress level will skyrocket in the days and weeks before kindergarten starts, but there are plenty of ways you can help your little one feel more prepared, and secure
For example, practice the first day of school – complete with a car ride to your little one's kindergarten class. Wake up your child up, get them dressed and hop into the car. Go to your child's school and take a tour before meeting their teacher one-on-one.
Make sure the experience is positive and if your little one gets through without a tear or tantrum, treat them to a big bowl of ice cream.
Whatever you do, it's vital your future-kindergartener spends as much one-on-one time with you as possible in the last few days before school begins. For instance, if possible, take a few days off of work and plan a weekend getaway. During the trip, keep the lines of communication open and continue to talk about how fun and exciting kindergarten is going to be!
Preparing for kindergarten can be an overwhelming and stressful experience – for both the child and the parent. However, if you continue to discuss your child's fear, and take the time to address your stress, it's possible to start your child's school career on the right foot!