My oldest is starting Kindergarten…cue the tears. In the blink of an eye he is 5, he will be with his teacher for more waking hours than he will be with me, and he will start to really have a life outside of the one in my bubble. I’ve written a lot about spirited kids on this blog, and how much they really feel. What might seem simple or ‘normal’ to us, can be difficult for them. Transitions are something that I’ve always had to help my boy with. The thing is, he always seems fine, the difficulties with transitions manifest elsewhere. This is something that I can now recognize and help with, but that wasn’t always the case. One thing I have learned to do with him is talk…about everything. Small or big, talking helps. He doesn’t always have an answer, or can’t quite articulate his feelings, but the more questions I ask, the more I get out of him. The more I get out of him, the better I can listen and help. So, as he goes off to Kindergarten, I know he is nervous and scared. My smart, outgoing, social, loving boy gets anxious. Here are some ‘feeling’ questions that I’ll be asking my rising Kindergartener, and a simple trick for how to get some answers.
10 Questions for a Rising Kindergartener
- How are you feeling about making new friends?
- How are you feeling about meeting a new teacher?
- What do you think about eating lunch at school?
- How are you feeling about playing on a new playground?
- When you think about learning something new, how do you feel?
- How are you feeling about playing in a new classroom?
- How are feeling about a being in a new school building?
- How are you feeling about mommy dropping you off at school?
- How are you feeling about talking in class?
- How do you feel about reading new books?
You might be feeling like some of these questions are putting ideas for anxieties in your child’s head that they might not be otherwise concerned with. If that is the case, ask very simple questions about something you are worried that they might be fearing. I tried to also include some questions that might highlight some of the things that your child is excited about, so that all of Kindergarten isn’t daunting. And remember, what might be anxiety-provoking for some kids, won’t be for others. But, we can’t always assume that we know how they are feeling, ask the questions, you just might be surprised by the answers.
You’ve Asked the Questions…Now What?
At the very least, once you have identified the main areas or anxiety or nervousness, you can try some of these methods to calm the jitters:
- play therapy at home (act out scenes with dolls, play school giving your child the role of teacher and student)
- read books
- watch shows/movies about school
- tell them about your own fears when you went to school or ask older siblings
- play the ‘How I’m Feeling Game’ (see below)
Sometimes kids have a hard time expressing their emotions, or even if they know how they are feeling, talking about it is difficult. Here are some printable emotion cards that you can use if this is the case (or even if it isn’t!). It will turn the process of expressing emotions into a game rather than a further anxiety-provoking task.
Print them out, cut them up and make it a game! Ask your child a question about how they are feeling, and ask them to hand you a card. Use your judgement and ask more questions about the emotion if it surprises you, or keep the information in your back pocket to explore further at another time, maybe through play.
Whether or not your little one is a rising kindergartener or not, I hope this gets you talking, playing, and excited for the school year! Good luck!