Dec 25, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

While kindergarten may be the first step in your academic career and college is often the last (unless you’re pursuing graduate studies, that is), these two phases of life are a lot more alike than most people realize. Read on for a roundup of five things kindergarten and college have in common.

1. In the beginning, it is new and exciting….and also overwhelming.

All new situations can evoke a variety of emotions, and kindergarten and college are no different. In the case of the former, kindergarten represents both the introduction to formal schooling as well as the end of early childhood. In the case of the latter, college represents the introduction to higher education as well as the start of adulthood. While these are exhilarating times of life, both can also be bittersweet with the moving on from one phase of life to another.

In both situations, knowing what to expect and managing your expectations accordingly is key to facilitating a smooth transition. Everything from taking a tour of the school/campus to reviewing the day’s schedule in advance can help with the acclimation process.

2. They’re both suitable environments for arts and crafts.

While finger painting, construction paper and handprint turkeys may be the exclusive domain of kindergarten students, the value of engaging in the arts for college students cannot be overstated. Not only has art been linked with a broad range of positive physiological and psychological outcomes, but arts-related studies in college are also viewed by employers as key creativity indicators.

In other words, not only do kindergarten and college both provide the perfect opportunity to get your arts and crafts on, but doing so in both settings can lead to lifelong benefits.

3. They both involving napping.

Who doesn’t have fond memories of nap time during kindergarten? Even if you didn’t fall asleep, that built-in downtime was a wonderful way to relax and recharge amidst the hustle and bustle of classroom life.

Well, the same applies to napping as a college student. In fact, one USA Today College blog goes so far as to deem napping to be a “college survival skill.”  Why? Because with college students facing a serious shortfall of sleep, taking time out to catch up can make a huge difference in everything from your mood to your ability to concentrate. Plus, just like kindergarteners get cranky when they’re tired, so do college students.

One noteworthy difference between kindergarten and college nappers? While the former are often required to nap, the latter have to make time for it -- something they’re not particularly good at, according to sleep experts. As Dr. Adam Knowlden, assistant professor of health science, told Science Daily, “About 33 percent of the general population receives insufficient sleep versus about 60 percent of the college population. One of the main differences is that college students' ability to get sufficient sleep is more within their control.”

4. New friendship opportunities abound.

Kindergarten is a time in which students test their social skills while building a new circle of friends in an unfamiliar environment. Replace the word “kindergarten” with “college” and the sentence still works.

Depending on your personality and situation, this can seem easier for kindergartners than for college students, but the reality is that putting yourself out there is an extremely worthwhile enterprise. Having a strong social network offers many advantages, including everything from stress relief to study partnerships. Socialization has been associated with significant physical health benefits, too. And then there’s that whole “lifelong friendships” thing.

5. Playtime matters.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development. It is through play that children at a very early age engage in and interact with the world around them….As they master their world, play helps children develop new competencies that lead to enhanced confidence and the resiliency they will need to face future challenges. Undirected play allows children to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and to learn self-advocacy skills.”

College students, too, need to “play” -- not in the block-stacking sense, but in terms of taking time out of their studies to participate in fun activities and hobbies. Life is about balance, and committing to it as a college student can help you lead a more successful and satisfying life.

Know of any others ways kindergarten and college are similar? If so, share them in the comments below!

Learn more about studying early childhood education.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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