February 3, 2010

Are you noticing changes in your five year old?

Do some of his behaviors seem regressive?

Is she clingy and doesn't want to be separated from you?

Has he told you he wants to stay at preschool and not go to kindergarten?

Are all of these behaviors not typical for your daughter?

When I was a pre-K teacher I would hear these concerns from parents every year around the end of January or early February. The parents would understandably be very concerned and ask me for advice. As a child therapist I still hear parents express these same concerns about their five year old.

I validate the parents concerns and then I ask if they're recently registered their five year old for kindergarten? The answer is usually "Yes!"

I then proceed to explain to parents that this is a big transition for their five year old. Everyone is telling them how grown up they are and talking non-stop about how great it will be to go to kindergarten. The child feels torn. They're excited to be growing up but they're also apprehensive about leaving preschool and all the familiarities they're grown accustomed to.

It's a big step for a five year old and as parents you can help them with that transition. If you see the above mentioned behaviors take a few minutes to give your child an extra hug and ask them if they're feeling sad or scared about leaving preschool and going to kindergarten. Validate whatever they are feeling and offer helpful suggestions such as driving by the new school and taking a photo of them standing in front of it. Mark on the calendar the day your child will be going to the school for a visit and/or kindergarten screening. Make sure that during that visit you point out the bathroom because not knowing where the bathroom is located is a big concern for a soon to be kindergartner.

Put less emphasis on growing up and more on making the transition easier for them.


Anonymous said...

I recently found your blog and really enjoy reading your posts. Do you have any experience with children with health issues and schooling? My son is a transplant recipient and is in a full day kindergarten class. We're struggling with his emotions and our emotions! It's hard to know how "normal" to expect him to be!

Pam Dyson, MA, LPC said...

Did he miss a lot of school due to the transplant and is struggling with fitting in? If you haven't already done so I would speak to his teacher and ask if you can come to class one day and explain to the children what happened to your son, etc. This would help them understand what he's dealing with and in turn might help your son feel more comfortable. If you can give me a little more information about how he's struggling I can offer some specific suggestions.

Blending Families said...

Your article is full of wisdom. I will recommend this to some parents, especially in blending families, who are struggling with their five year olds. Thanks! More power to you.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Dyson,

Can I email you more specifics about my son and his transplant issues? I tried to click on the "contact" link my computer isn't allowing it to go anywhere? Thanks so much!

Pam Dyson, MA, LPC said...

Send an email to pam@pamdyson.com

Anonymous said...

Would it also be normal for a child who is in kindergarten, never attended preschool, to start getting that way 1/2 way through the year? My son started and loved kindergarten, now as the year goes on, he "misses me too much" and often tries to stay home. We also had a baby just after school started.

Pam Dyson, MA, LPC said...

Yes, that's also normal. Starting school and a new baby are both big transitions for a young child. He knows that the baby gets all of your attention while he's at school and he's probably a little jealous. If you're not already doing it, I suggest you have some one on one time with him everyday even if it's only for 15 minutes. No baby, no phone or TV or any other distractions. Having you all to himself may be just what he needs.