For some children, going to kindergarten is the first major transition in life. They go to a new location, meet new people, and have the chance to socialise with a large group of peers without their parents or relatives watching over them. This experience can be both exciting and stressful for children and parents alike. How can parents prepare their children for this transition and deal with their own anxieties during this new stage in life? In this panel discussion moderated by Joey Liu, Chief of Staff at South China Morning Post , SCMP’s Kindergartens Festival: Future of Education gives insight into the transition families go through when children begin kindergarten and what parents can do to prepare. Generously sharing their perspectives in the discussion are panellists: Jacqueline McNalty, Founding Principal of Malvern College Pre-Schools Hong Kong , and Professor Eva Chen, Associate Professor in the Division of Social Science at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) . Making sure a child is on track for development is a concern many parents face, but there are ways to help children to be more prepared for the transition into kindergarten and get them excited about school. There are many components involved in school readiness, Jacqueline McNalty shares, including the child’s confidence, their age, and if they meet age-appropriate and chronological expectations. McNalty shares how parents should “set the scene and have a positive perspective” when telling their children about school because they look to us to see how they should feel about it. Parents can prepare their children with books, personal stories, and play-acting. Not only does this ease their stress and let them know what to expect, but it helps them improve upon some essential skills such as imaginative play. Additional things parents can work on at home with their children are: playing with blocks and small toys to develop fine motor control, playdates to develop social skills, toilet training and getting dressed by themselves to teach them self-help skills, and speaking in complete sentences to improve on their language skills. Professor Eva Chen notes how “oftentimes, the stress [about school] comes from parents.” Children look to their caregivers to see how they should be feeling and acting, so if the parent is stressed and anxious about this new stage in life, the child will be as well. Professor Chen suggests reforming stress into excitement, as this will help children view school as a place to look forward to and give them a positive outlook. As a last piece of advice, McNalty suggests parents should “get to know the school and speak about the school positively” to their children. Professor Chen closes out the discussion by saying “nothing beats having a strong social-emotional bond with your child,” and the best thing a parent can do is help their child feel safe and secure. For more information about our Kindergartens Festival: Future of Education series, please visit here for more details.