How can I help my granddaughter enjoy kindergarten more?
My 5 year old granddaughter began school in mid-August. Prior to attending kindergarten for the first time, she went to day-care in a private home setting with 2 other little girls and a 9 month old baby boy. Now that she is in "real" school, she cries every night and every morning. At first her mother learned that she had a problem with the noise, some kids being rude, the teacher telling the class they will need to "toughen up" and not tattle on one another. Now my granddaughter has a problem with lunch. They are to hold their trays appropriately so food can be placed on them, serve their own dessert and then when seated place their trays so that when reaching to open their milk they won't spill. She has a difficult time opening the carton of milk as well. Also the lunch attendant encourages them to not talk, eat and not dawdle. It is overwhelming for her to date and therefore the tears. What should be said to her in order to overcome the anxiety and encourage her to have fun and enjoy school?
Your post reminds me of how difficult school must seem to someone who has little experience with the sort of structure and independence that is required by a system that is educating large numbers of children. It is understandable that she would be overwhelmed and frustrated by the experience. Thankfully, she has a very supportive family, and I have little doubt that she will make it through this transition. The goal, however, is to ease the stress on her, so that she can enjoy more of the experience.
First, you and your granddaughter's parents should make an effort to reassure your granddaughter that her feelings of discomfort are normal. Let her know that all of the other children, even those who attended a preschool with more children, are nervous and adjusting to the kindergarten classroom.
The key is to know what to do with her uncomfortable feelings. Invite her to talk with her kindergarten teacher about her feelings and discuss strategies for easing some of the more stressful times of the day. For instance, she should approach one of the lunch volunteers for help opening and dealing with touch lunch packaging (they do a lot of this, and they are usually happy to help). Also, perhaps, her teacher can set her up with a "buddy" (another kindergartner) to walk through the lunch line for a couple of days to model and/or assist with managing food on the tray. Again, there is no shame is asking for help and getting assistance! Adjusting to school is tough!
Keep us posted!
L. Compian, Ph.D.
Education.com Reference Team