If your child is a little on the shy side, here are a few tips for preparing him or her for kindergarten.
1. It’s okay to be shy
Firstly, let your little one know that it is okay if he or she is a little more introverted and reserved than his or her peers. When you compare it to other kids, shy kids usually need some more time to adjust to their new environment. As a parent, it is your job to support your shy child until he or she is comfortable in an unfamiliar setting and you can help your little one interact with his or her peers.
2. Visit the school
A shy child needs more support than an outgoing one during those first few days at kindergarten. A great way to prepare him or her is to ease your child into school. Try visiting the school together a few times before his or her big first day so your little one will feel more comfortable in the new surroundings. You can also learn about the Guardian Early Learning kindergarten programs and talk to the teacher about making the transition easier for your child. Also, try to get the class list as soon as you can so you can find some of his classmates who may live nearby and try arranging a playdate or two beforehand so your child at least knows a few other kids when he or she starts school.
3. The first day
On the first day of school, plan to stay for a little while. Greet the teacher together and help your little one put his or her things away. You may also introduce your child to a few other kids. But if he or she seems uninterested, help your child begin an activity or project with them. When it’s time to go, remember to say goodbye and reassure him or her that you will be back later after classes are done. Don’t try to slip out unnoticed.
4. During the school year
Throughout the year, continue to communicate with the teacher. She will let you know what is or isn’t working for your shy child, who his/her friends are, and will advise you on how to encourage your little one to come out of his or her shell.
You may be told not to push a very shy child at this age, but if you don’t give them a little nudge of encouragement, they are not going to have as much exposure to other activities and people as they could. This can end up being harmful in the long run, since pre-schoolers learn tons about the world from one another.
That being said, you also don’t want to overload your shy child with social obligations. Listen and watch for his or her cues: if they are cranky and uncomfortable, ease off and give them a little quiet space. Shy kids do need some extra downtime every day after school to spend time in their familiar surroundings and engage in low-key activities. If a full day seems like it will be too much, you may want to consider half-day kindergarten if you have the option.