Tuesday, August 23, 2011 1:42:19 PM MDT

My sweet and shy 5-year-old son isn’t buying into all the “Back to School” excitement going on in the house.  He looks at his new backpack with suspicion and frequently mentions he doesn’t want summer to end.  He has made it known that he doesn’t need a new school, he can go back to preschool.  Transitions are not something that he handles with ease.  I fully expect to have him hiding behind my legs and hanging on for dear life for the first few days.  Let’s be honest, probably the first week or two.  

So to help him as best I can I’m trying the following :

Talking and Listening: When there’s quiet time, I ask him questions about what he’s looking forward to at kindergarten and what he’ll miss about preschool.  For now and even for a bit after school starts, I will straddle those two worlds as best I can -- letting him know that he will still see his best buddies and that we can visit his old school whenever he wants while talking about the new friends and fun that awaits him.  Plus, I remind him that his big sis whom he adores will be there to give him a hug or high five at recess and lunch.

Breaking the Ice: I called the school and volunteered to organize a playdate at a local park for the incoming kindergarten kids.  I scheduled two get togethers -- two different days and times in the same week -- so that parents and kids could hopefully make it to at least one. I was pleasantly surprised to see some familiar names on the list!  There are kids that we had run into before and if my little guy can make friends with even one classmate those first days, it will be so much easier for him. .  

Encouragement: I reassure my little one that he is brave and he is ready for his first day of kindergarten.  I’ll help the process with some incentives -- he can choose either a special meal or visit a favorite place – as an after “My First Day at My New School Reward”.  I also remind him that it’s normal to be nervous and that all the other kids are too!  I’ve enlisted his big sister to chime in on all the cool new things he will learn, games he will play and friends he will make and how happy she is that they are at the same school now.

For my part, by remaining calm and confident, and not making a big deal of my son’s anxiety, I can best help him through this short, yet momentous, transition into “big kid school”.  

I hope your first days go well, too.  If you have any helpful hints or anecdotes of your own, please share them!