Kindergarten is an exciting time for children. But it can also be difficult. There are so many new things your child is trying to get right, like learning numbers and letters, following directions, and making friends and getting along with others.

Because it can take time for a child to get used to this first year of “real” school, no parent should be surprised if a kindergartner is showing signs of having trouble. No matter what the problem — a tough time with friends or difficulty with schoolwork — you’ll have more success helping your child if you tell the teacher about the problem and work with her to solve it. (Don’t assume the teacher knows when something is wrong! No matter how good a teacher, she’s in charge of a large group of kids. Since you know your child better than anyone, it’s likely you’ll notice a problem before the teacher does.)

Here are some ways to help:

  1. Problems with difficult behavior

    Tell the teacher about difficult behavior at home.
    Many kids who are having a tough time at school wait until they get home to fall apart. Some children might be more moody and sometimes seem more sad or angry than usual. Some act out by saying “No!” more often to their parents.

    Whatever the difficult behavior, tell the teacher if your child is acting up at home. Tell her what you’re seeing and what you’re doing to handle it. The teacher may be seeing the same behavior at school and may have ideas on how to help. She may be seeing things — like bullying or teasing — that could be causing your child’s behavior, and she may have ideas on how to help.

    Listen to the teacher — and give ideas — if there’s difficult behavior at school.
    If the teacher tells you that your child is acting up in class, give her ideas on ways to stop the behavior if you’ve found things that work for you at home. Also, go ahead and ask your child why he’s misbehaving. Sometimes kids don’t know. But often, they’ll be glad to tell you: “I don’t like where I’m sitting.” “I don’t understand what the teacher is talking about.” “I wish I could run around but I just have to sit there.” Whatever you learn from your child, share this with the teacher so you can come up with a solution together.

    Set up a reward system for good behavior.
    If classroom behavior is a regular problem, you can work with the teacher on a reward system so that your child gets a reward when she behaves well. Ask the teacher to let you know when your child does well at school. Then you can do something special with her later that day (such as watching a movie together or playing a board game) as a reward for the good behavior.

  2. h3>Problems with kids at school

    Help your child make friends.
    Often, grown-ups expect kids to know how to make friends. But some children have a tough time figuring out how to play with others and make friends. If you know, or sense, that your child is having a hard time with other kids, or isn’t making friends, ask the teacher what she sees. If she sees your child is having problems, ask her for ideas on how to help your child make friends, such as seating your child next to a different child. You can also ask the teacher if there are any kids who might be a good match with your child. If so, you can contact that child’s parents to set up a time outside of school for the children to play together.

    Talk with the teacher if you think your child is being bullied.
    If you sense your child is being left out or is being picked on by another child (or if your child is picking on another child), talk with the teacher. Because teachers are in charge of so many kids, they may not know there’s a problem between your child and another child. But by getting this information from you, the teacher can help children work out problems.

  3. Problems with school work

    Know what work your child is doing.
    In these early years of school, parents can help make sure their kids don’t fall behind by knowing what they’re learning in class. So do your best to look over the work sheets and artwork your child brings home from class. Also, read any notes your teacher sends to parents about the work the kids are doing. And ask your child what she’s learning. (She may love teaching you something!)

    Tell the teacher if your child is having problems with schoolwork.
    If you see your child having a hard time doing any of his homework, or telling you he’s having a hard time understanding what the kids are learning in class, talk with the teacher. She should have ideas on how to help your child with his learning, at school and at home.

    Remind your child that it’s OK not to understand everything right away.
    Some children think they’re supposed to be perfect, and learn everything fast. They’re afraid they’re “stupid” if they don’t. They might feel better to hear that it can take a while for anyone — even adults — to learn something new. Tell your child a story about a time when you had to work for a while to really learn something. And let her know that other kids in the class might need some time to “get it” too, even if it doesn’t look that way to her.