Back to school will be an exciting time for our Jr and Sr students at Dalhousie Community Kindergarten. Both parents and children alike will be adapting to new routines and making new friends. During the first few weeks of school, children this age can experience a complete system-overload when it comes to how they feel: excitement, worry, pride, determination, anxiety, sadness… it can feel like a roller coaster! These feelings can manifest themselves in some strange ways. How can we, as a parent or a teacher, help our children navigate these emotional waters and ensure this transition is a smooth one? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Stay calm. This transition can be difficult for a child and grownups as well. Do your best to maintain a positive outlook about the year ahead and strive to keep your own concerns off your children’s shoulders.
- Offer specific praise. Instead of a generic, “good job!”, try – “I love how you said good morning to your friends”. Help your child recognize the significance of the little things they do everyday and individual steps to success.
- Label and Validate. Sometimes when our kindergarteners are having big feelings, it may be something they have not felt before or have difficulty understanding. Label their feelings for them – i.e. “Your body looks angry.” Let them know it is ok to feel the way that they do, and that other kids feel the same way too. Put yourself in their shoes: “If that happened, I would feel angry too.”
- Problem Solve. Brainstorm together to discuss things that could help them feel better. Be realistic – they still might have to face whatever is a problem (like waiting and sharing) but we can usually find a strategy that will make things more comfortable.
- Reach Out. If you are navigating some big feelings with your child at home, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your teacher. The classroom environment is a busy place, but a quick phone call or email is so important and helpful. You know your child and their emotions best, and at this time of the year, classroom staff is just introducing themselves to their new students and may not be able to see what you see. The teacher/parent partnership is one of the things that will make your school year a successful one, and we pride ourselves on being a program that values these relationships.