Is your child emotionally ready for school?

It is important to have an open dialogue with your child

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Is your child emotionally ready to start kindergarten?

Knoxville couple Kerri and Shaun Fomby have two daughters: Kaela, who is entering third grade, and Kelsie, who is looking forward to starting kindergarten. Both parents have to leave the house by 7 a.m. to get the girls to daycare during the summer and make it to their jobs on time. Now, they’re seeing if they can adjust their routine to get both daughters to school and get to work without too much stress.

“We’ve got to get out and just kind of see how it feels, especially with Kelsie not being up normally as early as she would be going to a regular school. We’ve got to see how that works in the mornings,” said Kerri Fomby.

The day starts just after 6 a.m. and Kerri Fomby gets the girls off to a happy start by letting them choose their own breakfast. They chose mini muffins. It’s a quick way to get the day started on a positive note.

Kaela is ready for third grade, and as a big sister, she’s helping Kelsie understand what to expect.

Kristin Bradley, Prevention and Early Intervention Services Coordinator with Helen Ross McNabb Center, says that kind of preparation sounds simple, but it’s important.

“Preparing them, I think, is the best thing you can do for a child. They know what to expect, they know what’s going to happen,” she said.

“I just hope and pray that they have an excellent school year. I know that they’re both excited. I think that you know for me being a dad just seeing them able to grow and make friends and being able to enjoy school,” said Shaun Fomby.

Kelsie is excited now, but if she has some first day jitters, that’s not unusual, says Bradley. She says anxiety about going to school is common, but if your child starts to withdraw, is terrified of going to school or even refuses to, it might be time to seek the help of the school counselor, or other professional mental help.

She also says to have an open dialogue with your child. Ask questions.

“What do you think it’s going to be like meeting your new friends? And what do you think it’s going to be like sitting in a classroom and learning with the teacher? And then through that conversation you’re going to get a good feel of whether they’re ready,” she said.

One piece of advice to calm your young just starting kindergarten: show them a clock before they leave, pointing out when the hand is on, say, 3 o’clock, that is when they will come home.

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