Most 5 and 6 year olds anxiously wait all summer long for the day that they too, can start school. They have usually been to the school for a spring visit, have seen the classrooms, walked the halls, and met the teachers (although not necessarily the teacher that will be theirs). They are ready…they think. Before that big first day of school arrives, make sure that your child will know what to do when attempting to make new friends. Making new friends can be scary for a kindergartner. You have to help your kindergartner learn that making new friends is a skill and it takes time to practice this skill. Most 5 and 6 year olds have had their parents close by for reassurance when situations for making new friends have presented themselves in the past. Now, they must approach other children on their own. You could role play using puppets with your child about what he/she should say in unfamiliar social situations that will be faced in kindergarten. Some young children will ask another ‘to play’ but the other child doesn’t really know what your child means. Teach your child to ask a specific question, “Would you like to play blocks with me?” “Would you like to look at books with me?” and then practice what your child should say after his/her new friends answers. What your child can not possibly understand is that all of the children in the room are just as hesitant about the making a new friend process as he/she is. So they all wait for the others to do the work. Teach your child to take the initiative. The first question that most kindergarten teachers receive at the first parent teacher conference is: “Does my child have any friends?” “Who does he/she play with?” Although these skills are taught and practiced at school, these questions usually lead to a brief lesson for parents in helping to teach their child at home the social skills needed to be a friend. Becoming and maintaining friendship is a lifelong skill that receives much reinforcement in a kindergarten classroom. Check out most kindergarten report cards, over 50% of the grades will be for social skills. Help your child prepare, practice now so that making new friends will not seem so overwhelming.
Re posted from July 2009