Most children, along with their parents, feel a little jumpy on the first days of kindergarten. Banish first day jitters with these 25 ways to prep for the new adventure of your child starting school!
Meet New Faces
1. Meet the teacher in advance. Open House or Back-to-School Night is the perfect opportunity for you and your child to be introduced to the teacher. By putting a face to a name, your child will gain some comfort.
2. Mingle with other parents and their children. The more recognizable faces on the first day, the better your child will feel when they walk into the classroom.
Get Familiar with New Environment
3. Look around your child’s classroom. It’s likely there will be a class schedule posted. Review this with your child, so they will know what will be expected of them throughout the day. Knowing snack, lunch, and recess times are helpful in preparing for the day.
4. Focus on fun. While in the classroom, point out fun activities like the art table or fish tank.
5. Take a school tour. Knowing where classrooms, bathrooms, playground, and cafeteria are located is essential information for every child. A visit will give your child some visual reassurances when walking into the school on their first day.
6. Make some time to play on the outside play area, if not occupied by students. Most children love to play outside and it will certainly leave a good first impression.
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7. Post the class schedule on your refrigerator, so you and your child can get familiar with daily routines and activities.
8. Obtain the school handbook and read it. It’s important for your child to know the rules.
9. Shop together for school supplies. This is the fun part about starting school. Use the supply list provided by your school. Many items are standard, but kids can personalize with a pencil case or backpack.
10. Get into a routine. The night before, pack everything in their backpack, get together lunch/snack items, and lay out outfit or uniform to wear. Include your child in the preparations, so she will learn to be responsible.
11. Label everything to reduce potential meltdowns over not being able to claim items.
12. Give gentle reminders to your child to look after his belongings by putting things away in his backpack and hanging items on his designated hook or cubby while in school.
13. Get up early. First day jitters can cause delays. Allow plenty of time to have a relaxed breakfast, address any last-minute insecurities, and get to school on time.
14. If your child is feeling uneasy, tell him it’s normal to be nervous and the other kids are feeling the same way. If you have one, tell a story about how nervous you were on your first day of kindergarten. Point out the positive aspects of starting school like how it will be fun making new friends and learning new things.
15. Leading up to the first day of school, continue to have periodic chats to ease worry and boost spirits. Let them know you are there for them.
16. It’s hard to predict how a kindergartner starting out in a new school will react to the first day. Some will cling to their mom while others will walk away without a glance over their shoulder. To ease the transition, coordinate a time for your child meet a classmate in your neighborhood before the first day.
17. Arrange for your child to walk or ride with another kid in the neighborhood. A traveling buddy will make it easier for your child to walk into school.
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19. Practice saying goodbye. For some children, the biggest challenge could be saying goodbye to you. Set up small separations to practice saying goodbye. Develop a quick parting routine and make a swift exit.
20. Keep your feelings to yourself when you make your morning departure from your child. Don’t talk about how much you will miss your child. Don’t let your concerns become your child’s worries.
21. After dropping off your child, talk with other parents, if you need support. Likely, they will be feeling similar to you and chances are you will have a lot in common over the next few years.
22. Give it time. It takes some children longer than others to adjust and get comfortable in a new environment. Anticipate some ups and downs during the first few weeks. If you have concerns about how the transition is going, reach out to your child’s teacher.
23. Learn to let go. There is a point that children have to go out in the world on their own and starting kindergarten is the beginning of letting your children spread their wings.
Home At Last
24. Make sure your child knows how she will be getting home. If you will be picking up your child, tell her you will be waiting in the carpool line. If your child will be riding a bus home or a van to an afterschool program, explain the process and how the adults will make sure she will be safe.
25. Arrive on time for pick-up. Being late will cause unnecessary stress for your child.
Kindergarten is an exciting time. You can feel good that you’ve given your child more confidence to walk through the school doors and take on this exciting step. Best of luck!
Sara Kendall is a freelance writer and mom of two daughters.