Preparing your child for kindergarten might seem overwhelming! Below are 20 tips to help ensure your child has a memorable and positive first day!
1. Visit Your Child’s School
Before the school year begins, take the time to visit your child’s teacher and classroom. In order for your child to feel more comfortable in a new environment, you must also familiarize yourself with it.
If possible, walk your child through the school so that when they finally arrive for class, they will know where everything is. Additionally, you should talk to your child’s teacher about any of their specific learning challenges to help prevent future issues or prepare them if such issues arise.
2. Plan a Variety of (Peanut-Free) Lunches
3. Encourage Independence at Home
Allow your child to pick out their own clothes, throw away their own trash, and put on their own jackets. By doing so, you’ll help your child transition into a more independent environment.
Your child will spend a lot of their time in school learning to read and listening to others read to them. Allowing your child to pick out a book each night to read together will acquaint them with the activity while helping them improve their listening skills.
Reading aloud also exposes children to more vocabulary words and improves comprehension skills.
6. Label Personal Items
A small but helpful habit! To avoid unnecessary arguments or confusion, label your child’s school supplies, lunch boxes, and outerwear.
7. Get to Know Other Parents
You might want to reach out to parents ahead of time or even spend an extra few minutes during pick-up or drop-off the first day to meet other parents and exchange contact information.
8. Practice Transitioning Between Activities at Home
During the school day, your child will transition frequently between different sets of instructions, lessons, and rooms.
To help facilitate these transitions, practice moving between activities at home. For example, you and your child might read a book aloud, practice a workbook, have a snack, and throw away your trash. Allow them to complete as many activities independently as they reasonably can.
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9. Stay Up to Date with Vaccinations/Immunizations
10. Have Them Help With Chores
Small chores can be another way to familiarize your child with independent activities or cooperative tasks. Chores are also a way to build trust in their own abilities and ready them for an environment where they will have to pick up after themselves and take care of a group space. Tossing laundry into the laundry bin, bringing dishes to the sink, turning off lights, and helping with a pet are all small ways to start incorporating daily chores.
11. Talk About School!
You might want to begin discussing the school year with your child at least a month or so in advance so that they are prepared for the concept, particularly if they have not previously spent full days in a pre-school or daycare without you.
In the days leading up to school, you could practice picking out an outfit and eating breakfast together. You might also pick out some children’s books that specifically demonstrate what school will be like so they know what to expect.
12. Ask Your Child How They Feel
Discussing feelings openly can also lessen fear around impending new experiences. When the day ends, ask your child what they enjoyed and what was more difficult. As they progress through the year, start to request more details; doing so allows them to practice their storytelling skills while teaching you about their day.
13. Give Them a Keepsake From Home
If your child is particularly nervous about leaving home or visiting a new place alone, send them to school with a note or a photograph that they can look to during the day. Small, private reminders of their family and their safety can help assuage initial fears of spending the day with strangers.
14. Have Playdates
Playdates can be great practice for dropping your child off and practicing saying goodbye.
The first few drop-offs at school might be somewhat difficult or upsetting for you and your child. Therefore, allowing your child to experience you leaving for brief periods when they are in a comfortable environment can help them adjust to spending their days without you.
15. Practice Improving Their Attention Span
Children at school spend half or full days listening to their teachers and working with their classmates. You can help improve their attention span at home by reading with them or embarking on longer projects or workbooks.
Completing an art project together, playing a board game, or going on a scavenger hunt are some other fun ways you can help your child get used to paying attention for longer periods of time.
16. Pick Out School Supplies
School sounds much more exciting when children can pick out their own supplies and tools. If you are purchasing a backpack, lunch box, or any other supplies, let your child choose between your approved options. Allowing them some input gives them a sense of control and enthusiasm.
If you are using a pre-owned backpack or a lunchbox from your house, allow your child to decorate and personalize them. Not only will they start to feel responsible for keeping track of their belongings, but they will also take pride in their handiwork.
The first day of kindergarten should be a special day for the whole family! Preparing your child’s favorite breakfast or playing their favorite music in the car are both small ways to get them excited for the day and show them how proud you are!
18. Arrive on Time
Even as an adult, arriving late to engagements can be quite stressful! Make sure your child has a seamless introduction to school by arriving on time or early. Doing so will allow them to find their classroom, cubby, and teacher with ample time to spare. It might also allow you to meet with other families and tour the school before the rush of the day begins.
19. Discuss their Pick-Up Situation
Confirming who will pick your child up and when is essential to ensure you, your child, and their teacher know exactly which people your child is allowed to leave the school with. Practicing stranger safety with your child is always useful when they are moving into a new environment without you.
Making sure the teacher also has up to date contact information for you and your family is key to ensure everyone is on the same page about your child’s whereabouts after school.
20. Stay Calm
Remember: parents can be nervous, too! The important thing is to make sure your child cannot tell you are scared or sad about their leaving. Your child will react to your energy and expressions, so staying positive when you are discussing the school year or when you are dropping them off can help encourage rather than scare them!
For most children, kindergarten marks the beginning of a long—and hopefully positive— relationship with school. Do your best to prepare yourself and your child for what will be a fantastic year!
Are you a parent with tips for first-time kindergarten families? Add your advice in the comments below!
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