Entering kindergarten: Parents’ and children’s fears

Entering kindergarten: Parents’ and children’s fears
Starting kindergarten and entering the “big kid” can trigger a number of fears–both for children and for their parents. Here’s how to overcome them.

Starting kindergarten and entering the “big kid” can trigger a number of fears–both for children and for their parents. Here’s how to overcome them.

Child fears

Starting kindergarten is a step into the new and unknown, so it’s normal for your child to be apprehensive. Here’s how to react to reassure them.

My child is afraid of not making friends.

Since your child doesn’t yet know who will be in his class, they may be afraid of not being with their friends or not knowing how to make new ones.

You can reassure your child by reminding them that if they managed to have friends at daycare, they’ll be able to make friends at school too. Encourage your child to observe their classmates and find the ones that like playing the same games as they do.

You can also suggest that they approach one child at a time to ask to play with them. It’s easier than approaching an entire group.

My child is afraid of feeling shy with their teacher.

Your child may be uncomfortable with this person he has yet to meet. They may feel shy asking for help or raising their hand if they don’t understand something.

You can tell your child that the teacher will be happy to answer their questions, that it’s part of the teacher’s job to help them. Suggest that your child talk to their teacher about their activities and what they like to do at recess, for example. This will help create a bond between them.

My child is afraid of getting lost in the school.

The school is a place bigger than a daycare centre and there are a lot of people they don’t know. It’s normal that they’re scared of getting lost there.

You can reassure your child by telling them that they can ask any adult in the school for help. Whether it’s a teacher, the janitor, the principal or the secretary–any one of them can help your child find their way.

Parent fears

You, too, may be feeling a little anxious about your child starting kindergarten–especially if that child is your first! However, it’s important to find ways to reassure yourself so you don’t transfer your fears to your child.

I’m afraid my child won’t be able to get organize.

It’s true that at the beginning, your little one may have some trouble with things such as getting dressed on their own or packing their lunch. Every day they’ll get better at it and be able to do more and more on their own.

You can help your child become more self-sufficient by giving them small responsibilities. Your child can help you make their lunch and prepare their clothes for the next day, for example.

I’m afraid my child won’t make friends.

Making friends in a new group is always a challenge! To help your child develop good social skills, you need to give them regular opportunities to play with others, such as by going to the park, visiting the community pool, or inviting a friend over. It’s best to let the children invent their own games, and if there’s any conflict, let them try to sort it out amongst themselves.

I’m afraid my child will be bullied

To equip your child with coping tools, show them how to set limits. For example, you can say: “You can tell your friend that you don’t want to play anymore or that it’s your turn to choose the game.” By encouraging your child to say what they want or feel, you can help prevent them from being bullied.

Also remind your child that they can always go to an adult (e.g., a teacher or monitor) if they need help. If you think your child is being rejected or bullied at school, you should speak to their teacher about it immediately.

How to reduce stress
Your child will feel less worried about school if you talk to them about their fears and help them put their emotions into words. Another effective way to reduce stress is to take your child to the school playground on a regular basis so that they can become familiar with it. It’s also a good idea to read books to your child about starting kindergarten. Some writers use a humorous approach, which can help make the situation feel less intimidating (see page 31 for our kids’ book recommendations).

Things to keep in mind

  • It’s normal to feel a little apprehensive about starting kindergarten.
  • Talk to your child about their fears to reassure them.
  • It’s important to find ways to overcome your own fears so you don’t transfer them to your child.
Naître et grandir

Research and copywriting: Solène Bourque, Psychoeducator
January 2019

Photo : Nicolas St-Germain

Useful links and resources

Please note that hyperlinks to other websites are not updated regularly, and some may have changed since publication. If a link is no longer valid, use search engines to find the relevant information.


Books for parents

  • Homework and Studying, M.-C. Béliveau, Éditions du CHU Sainte-Justine, 2010, 68 pp.
  • LessonsLearned: The Kindergarten Survival Guide for Parents, J. Podest, Balboa Press, 2014, 108 pp.
  • Ready For Kindergarten!: From Recognizing Colors to Making Friends, Your Essential Guide to Kindergarten Prep, D. J. Stewart, Adams Media Corporation, 2013, 224 pp.
  • The Littlest Learners: Preparing Your Child for Kindergarten, D. R. Roginski, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2017, 160 pp.

Books for kids

  • Dad’s First Day, M. Mohnoutka, Bloomsbury Press Agency, 2015, 32 pp.
  • How to Be Kind in Kindergarten: A Book for Your Backpack, author: D. J. Steinberg, ill.: R. Hammond, Penguin Young Readers Group, 2021, 32 pp.
  • How Will I Get to School This Year?, author: J. Pallotta, ill.: D. Biedrzycki, Scholastic Canada, 2013, 32 pp.
  • Kindergarten Countdown!: 10 more sleeps until school starts, author:M. Blain Parker, ill.: S. Borrows, Streling Children’s Books, 2017, 32 pp.
  • Kindergarten: Where Kindness Matters Every Day. author: VAhiyya, ill.: JChou, Random House, 2022, 40 pp.
  • Our Class is a Family, author: S. Olsen, ill.: S. Sonke, Shannon Olsen, 2020, 28 pp.
  • Ready, Set, Kindergarten!, author: P. Ayer, ill.: D. Abour, Annick Press, 2015, 24 pp.
  • School Rules, author: R. Munsch, ill.: D. Whamond, Scholastic Canada, 2019, 32 pp.
  • The King of Kindergarten, author: D. Barnes, ill.: V. Brantley-Newton, Penguin Young Readers Group, 2019, 32 pp.
  • The Night Before Preschool, author: N. Wing, ill.: A. Wummer, Penguin Young Readers Group, 2016, 22 pp.
  • The Queen of Kindergarten, author: D. Barnes, ill.: V. Brantley-Newton, Penguin Young Readers Group, 2022, 32 pp.