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KNOXVILLE — Starting kindergarten is an exciting and important time for children and parents, but it also can be stressful.

Rena Hallam, assistant professor of child and family studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, offers parents five strategies to make the transition to kindergarten easier.

“Families can help to ease the transition to kindergarten by focusing on a child’s emotions and feelings about going to a new place,” Hallam said. “Whether the child has been at home or in preschool, launching their formal education by starting kindergarten is a big milestone.”

1. Keep a Routine — With a big change like going to kindergarten, try to minimize other changes in a child’s life and keep to the same routine. Be attuned to your child’s concerns, excitement and possible fears.

2. Prepare Together — Let your child help pick out supplies for school such as a backpack. Being involved gives the child a sense of control and lessens anxiety.

3. Read About It — Read to your child or help her read books about going to school such as Nancy Carlson’s “Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come.” This will help the child learn about what school will be like and prompt discussions about school.

4. Take a Visit — Set up an appointment to visit the school with your child before the first day. Tour the cafeteria, classrooms, gym and even restrooms so your child can see where he will spend the day. Meeting the teacher before school starts also is a good idea.

5. Be a Role Model – Have a positive attitude about your child starting kindergarten and school in general. This will make her feel more at ease and excited about it.

Hallam and her husband have 9-year-old twin girls.

Her research focuses on transition experiences in early schooling, preparation of early care and education personnel and assessment of young children. She has written a how-to book for childcare practitioners and co-authored several articles on early care and education.

For media who would like to set up an interview with Hallam, contact:

Elizabeth Davis, UT media relations, (865) 974-5179,