Easing anxiety in kindergarten children: How you can support parents - Step4
Easing anxiety in kindergarten children: How you can support parents

Easing anxiety in kindergarten children: How you can support parents

The transition to kindergarten from a childcare setting or from home can be daunting. Although daunting, it’s something a large majority of Australian children go through. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 85% of all 4-year-old and 22% of all 5-year-old children were enrolled in preschool programs such as kindergarten in 2021.

It’s important to equip parents and children, as well as their educators, with the tools to smoothly facilitate this change.

Besides orientation, you won’t have much to do with the children until they begin for the year. This is when you can equip parents with some preparation tips so they can use the next month or so to facilitate a simple transition. You could include the following tips in parent communications.

  • Give children time to prepare – talk to them regularly about the upcoming change
  • Listen to and talk to children about their concerns/anxieties. Reassure them and show them that you know how they feel. Help them recognise signs of anxiety.
  • Children of all ages find routine reassuring, so stick to a daily routine, even if travelling for the holiday period
  • Look for books, movies, or even create a short social story to help them understand the change. Using themselves and familiar people in this story helps them process the change. If you need any examples, just Google ‘social story – moving’ and there are plenty of images.
  • The use of story books to support children in separation from parents is a great way to ease them into a new environment once there. A great story to recommend to parents is ‘The Invisible String’.
  • Children mirror emotion, so in communications to parents, remind them that remaining positive and calm will ultimately support their child.
  • Remind parents that the transition isn’t an overnight thing. Children can take weeks to settle into their new learning environment. Some children become anxious after a few weeks in the new environment when they originally seemed fine. It is important for parents to remain calm and stick to routine.
  • Talk about previous changes in their life that they successfully coped with. E.g. moving house, addition of a sibling to the family, separation of parents etc.

When the time comes for the year to start, here are our two biggest tips for educators:

  • Provide connection and play – Remaining consistent with them is a way reassuring them that you are there for them and they can trust you.
  • Practise some different calming strategies that children can use when they begin to feel overwhelmed. For example, incorporate some stretching and breathing exercises throughout the day, and remind children that they can do this at any time.

Good luck to all kindergarten educators, children, and their families for the year ahead. It’s an exciting step for the future generation and another step in the journey of lifelong education.

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