Congrats, ‘rents! After many, MANY sleepless nights, endless days, and more Bluey and Cocomelon than you care to acknowledge, you’ve done it. You’ve reached the end of a very long road and are staring down the start of the next leg of your journey: the first day of school. This is an incredibly exciting time for kiddos and parents, but it’s also a time of A LOT of flux and changes to, well, life as you all know it. As such, it can be a bit of a rough transition for your new students – and for you. Like any part of parenting, it’s impossible to predict how your family will weather the starting school milestone. But with a little foresight and preparation, you can get everyone in the best position to handle it like champs. We’ve got some tips on how to prepare for the first day of school – for both you AND your mini.
Prepping Your Kids
- Set expectations for your child about the first day, like, weeks and weeks ahead of time! The more you talk about school and build excitement for their first day, the more comfortable they’ll be when it’s time to start.
- Make it a point to attend orientation/teacher meet-and-greet. For a lot of kids, the unknowns of starting school can create anxiety. Not knowing where they’re going, what it looks like, who their teacher is (or even WHAT a teacher is), what the other kiddos will be like – all of this is a lot to process for a 5 or 6 year old! Giving them a chance to see their school and classroom and meet their teacher ahead of time can alleviate a lot of their fears about the unknown.
- Go shopping! If this is your first kiddo in school, let me go ahead and extend apologies now – you’re gonna need to buy a lot of stuff. School clothes, new shoes, backpack, lunch box, school supplies, and 100 other things. Getting your little one involved in checking off their school supply list will make them excited because who doesn’t love cracking into a new box of crayons or putting on a new outfit?!
- Get their social circle started. If you have access to a class list ahead of time, contact some of the parents and try to set up a playdate or two before school starts. This will give your kiddo a familiar face on the first day and is also a great way to get to know your fellow kinder parents too!
- Practice your morning routine weeks ahead. The first day of school is stressful enough without doing the whole routine for the first time ON the first day of school. Oh, and don’t forget to do a mock drive to school, so your kiddo knows what to expect when it’s go time.
- Let yourself feel whatever emotions you need to feel – This is a big deal, and it’s a BIG change. It’s OKAY and completely normal to feel sad, anxious, or worried that they won’t like it, make friends or enjoy themselves. Will they be able to keep up academically? Have I done enough to prepare them for all of the learning they’ll be doing? Every parent who’s sent their kiddo off on their first day of school has had the exact same emotions and concerns. You’ll feel better once they’ve started, but it’s definitely OK to feel not-so-good about it as it approaches.
- Communicate with their teacher – Send a quick email to your child’s teacher the week before the first day, and just after the first day as a way to introduce you and your child, and let the teacher know you’re someone who is open to and appreciates communication! You may not hear back right away, which is understandable considering how hectic the start of school is from a teacher’s perspective. But your kid’s teacher will appreciate your outreach.
- Keep it simple – You want to mitigate as much stress and anxiety in the first week as possible, so keep the routine as simple as possible until you’re all acclimated to this new normal. If you’ve never been the parent who wakes up at 5am to make a huge breakfast or gets up before the kids to be fully ready when they wake up, the first day and week of school is not the time to turn over that particular leaf! There are already going to be a lot of changes in the first days and weeks after school starts, so don’t add to your plate with even more.
- Stay consistent – Consistent with bedtimes, morning routines, expectations – all of it. Consistency at home is key to helping your child be as successful as they can be at school!
And finally, for parents, the last bit of advice: give yourselves a big pat on the back. Because you did it! You got through some of the hardest days and nights of your life and have raised a fully functioning human who is ready to take kinder (and the world!) by storm. You’ve done a truly remarkable thing, and you deserve all the kudos. It really does shift into hyper-speed after this point – enjoy it as much as you can.