My daughter had social anxiety so bad she had selective mutism. We discovered it at the end of her first year of preschool (4.5). Well, we knew something was up at the beginning of preschool, we just didn't know there was a name for it.
So, we took her to a pediatric neuropsychologist to see what was going on. She had been tested pretty extensively, using fun "games" (developmental assessments). It was to find out what her strengths and weaknesses were.
We found out she was very advanced for her age (and subsequent assessments are indicating she's at least 2 years ahead of her age), and had retained primitive reflexes (the fight, flight or freeze mode) and was easily overwhelmed by certain sensory input. She's basically developing unevenly - her cognitive areas more developed than her emotional ones. We had to use her cognitive abilities to help her develop the emotional ones.
The neuropsych gave us a bunch of suggestions/professionals to see. After adding up a lot of the time and money it would cost us, we did many of the things at home and also enrolled her at the early intervention preschool, to work on social skills. Having the report from the neuropsych allowed us to get her an IEP to take with her into K.
The EI preschool was located at the elementary school, so we ended up getting her exposed a lot to the school the year before kindy. They sent her on lots of errands with the speech teacher around the school to get her familiar with the people and the location of the different areas of the school.
Specific things we did do ourselves -
Enrolled her in ballet class and got a YogaKids dvd to use at home - the gentle movement promotes body awareness and helps to re-integrate some of the reflexes that were retained.
Spent lots of time at the park at the elementary school after school hours.
It also helped that we had an older daughter at the school, so we made sure to do all the Fun Fairs, Potlucks etc, so that dd2 would associate fun things with the school.
I created and used an "problem solving binder
" to help her articulate her feelings. There's a link to the CSEFL website with a booklist for using books for tools to help emotion coach.
The more exposure to her school, the more pleasant experiences your child can have, the better she will be.
Dd has had a wonderful two weeks at the school. She has made friends, has had some fun, has been more relaxed than ever. Although she comes home from half day kindy very hungry, because she's using up all her energy during the 2.5 hours at school.