Here’s to a smooth elementary school start.
For many parents, Kindergarten signals a major step up from the all-consuming baby/toddler years. Suddenly, your “baby” is expected to make choices on her own, stay focused over a longer period of time, learn new skills and navigate a social circle with less oversight from you. Plan ahead to pave the road to a happier Kindergarten kickoff.
Visit the school
Before school begins, attend any school orientations or teacher meet-and-greets to help your child grow familiar with his new learning environment.
MK mom tip: “We took a tour of the school and saw the classroom the week before my son started. I think it made it more real for him.” —Larisa Parker
Find friendly faces
Arrange play dates with future classmates. A few familiar faces on the first day can keep butterflies in check.
Do your best not to convey to your child any nervousness you feel. Instead, build enthusiasm and optimism. Shop together for a new backpack or lunchbox, school supplies and clothes.
MK mom tip: “I’ve been filling our son with excitement about his new adventure, reminding him that there’sno quiet time in Kindergarten. He’s a big boy now! ”—Cheryl Craig-Gross
Reading to your child not only teaches valuable listening skills; it’s a great way to prepare for the Kindergarten experience. Find titles like Audrey Penn’s The Kissing Hand, Natasha Wing’s The Night Before Kindergarten and Katie Davis’ Kindergarten Rocks.
MK mom tip: “Teach them some beginning sight words when you read to them.” —Shannon Morgan Tucker
If you child is nervous about riding the bus, drive the route ahead of time. Seek out a “bus buddy,” be it an older sibling, a fellow classmate or responsible neighbor. On the first day, arrive early at the bus stop. Introduce yourself and your child to the driver. Assure your child that you (or whomever you’ve designated) will be waiting there at the stop when the bus returns after school. (Read more on banishing bus fears here.)
Tackle a few skills
While knowing color names, the ABCs and how to count to 10 will give your child a head start, work on other skills, like tying shoes and memorizing his birthday and address.
MK mom tip: “We used to play ‘school’ and take turns being the teacher and student. We would pretend we were going to gym class when we went outside, the cafeteria when we had our lunch, etc.” —Christina Gamber
Sometimes it’s hard to get a child to discuss his day. Ask her to tell you some funny or interesting things that happened at school and jot them down in a daily journal.
Good eats, solid zzz’s
Make sure your Kindergartener gets plenty of rest and eats healthy meals, which will help him focus and better manage the stress of the transition. Wake up a little earlier to avoid a rushed first day.
MK mom tip: “I mainly prepped my daughter for her experience in the classroom. I really wish instead we had practiced the morning routine of getting her ready, fed and to school on time. I will practice that for a week with my younger son when it’s his turn for school.” —Jessica Volpe Arno
Freelance journalist Christa Melnyk Hines is a family communication expert, wife and mom. She and her two sons plan to celebrate the first day of school with a trip to the ice cream counter.