It’s Nearly That Time Again
With spring in full bloom and summer just ‘round the corner, it’s getting close to time to say goodbye to an entire class of friends again! As much as we will miss our intrepid co-learners as they journey forward into becoming elementary students, we know it is time for them to take the next important step. We want our outgoing kids to continue to grow and experience rich lives full of kindness and friendship. We have enjoyed sharing both these virtues on their journey through their preschool years.
The Uncertain Road Ahead
In the months ahead, as we hear from some of the parents of our co-learners, we expect to see some of the children struggling to maintain the same balances they had as co-learners of Creekside Kids. We see a lot of anxiety within kids as they prepare to leave for kindergarten. These expressions of feelings can often come out as what may be seen as negative behaviors but in fact are an expression of their anxieties regarding the upcoming changes. We’ve talked about this subject before, about how preschools and parents can create anxiety in children without even meaning to, by focusing on how different things will be when they leave, because it’s important to us that our kids go on to be successful in a more academically oriented environment. We want them to continue to feel loved and valued by their old teachers and school— but not to turn back for what they know and trust.
The stress of changing to both a new school and a new way of doing things can be difficult for children, especially those children who have become used to years of a specific routine. In preparing a child for that change, it can be difficult to ride the line between under-preparing them for what is to come and over-preparing them until it all seems like too much to process.
The kind of anxiety that conversations about kindergarten can trigger is enormous. And these anxieties may lead to behavioral changes. When they are told, “when you do that in kindergarten, you’re going to be in big trouble,” their common mistakes become dangerous to them, as they are still building trust in their new educational environment.
Here is a list of some things to watch out for when your child is making the transition from pre-k to kindergarten:
Tantrums without an identifiable trigger. If there are sudden triggers that seem unrelated to the events, and your child cannot express what fears are dysregulating them, it might be something so big, they don’t know how to talk to you about it because ‘going to big kids school’ is now expected of them. Appreciative inquiry about their feelings about leaving one school with trusted teachers and peers and moving to an unfamiliar school with unfamiliar teachers and peers may help the children be able to talk about their feelings.
Fear of criticism. When kids are nurtured in daycare or pre-K programs, they are rarely given criticism for their efforts; they hear criticism when they violate a rule, not when they color outside the lines. As they enter a different school, they may find themselves suddenly ‘wrong’– or perhaps less ‘right’– than a fellow student. This can trigger their fight/flight/freeze/fawn response. This can be lessened by going over their mistakes and reassuring them that the errors are not unforgivable in their new setting.
Freezing in place. When you get the signal that taking action and growing up has led you to a difficult new environment, there can be a tendency to freeze one’s self in time and reject choices that lead to risks. Children have a tremendous capacity for learning, so if there are telltale signs of an unwillingness to try new things, it may be an unconscious expression of their fear of change. Highlight how much fun learning is and how much they are already growing, even when they don’t actively try to grow. Above all, model mistake making for them and express that it is okay to make mistakes.
Trouble sleeping. Rest is important, but anxieties about the change in the environment and difficulties of making new friends, etc. can spur sleeplessness, and kids staying up all night to play in the way that was acceptable in pre-K are a problem in kindergarten. This is one of the hardest symptoms to overcome, as an off-hours sleep schedule can throw an entire household out of routine. We suggest reassurance and praise at bedtime, and an insistence upon device-free bedtime routines.
The logical focus for dealing with anxiety is to teach kids to verbalize their anxieties and seek help, rather than adults trying to eliminate every obstacle they encounter. Love and understanding from you, talking about feelings and labeling them as well as breathing exercises, meditation and counting, self-reassurance, and play-date introductions to new friends can help them get past their anxieties and on to new adventures. If you’d like to discuss a place at Creekside Kids for your kids, we invite you to click this embedded link to schedule an appointment. Let’s get to know each other! Like us on Facebook to follow our stories for news and updates. We’re located at 1201 W Cheyenne Road, Colorado Springs, CO 80906, and we can be reached at (719) 635-9111. Our new hours of operation are 6:45 am until 5:45 pm, Monday through Friday.