by Danielle Schultz
The first day of kindergarten can be a time of great excitement and high stress for all involved. Planning ahead and preparing your child for this transition into those good old “school days” can help everyone be more comfortable and relaxed about the first days.
Well before your child’s first day of school, share fond memories of your school days with your child. Look at any pictures you have of you as a school-aged child. Talk about events you remember and feelings you felt.
Look at photo albums of your child with your child. Point out how much your child has grown and how many changes he’s gone through. Talk about new things he’s tried and enjoyed in the past.
Discuss the Daily Routine
Call the school to get a simple schedule of the school day. (If you can’t keep in mind things that are pretty much standard: role call, Pledge of Allegiance, story time, activity time, recess, lunch, etc.) Talk with your child about the kind of activities she will be doing throughout the day.
Discuss with your child how he can ask the teacher for help. If your child uses made-up words for toileting, take the time to teach your child words the teacher will understand such as “restroom,” “potty,” or “bathroom.” Help your child understand that he’ll be expected to raise his hand if he needs help. Make sure he knows that he can ask the teacher for help when he needs it.
Role play school settings with your child. Pretend that she needs to use the restroom. Act out lunch time. Pretend to walk in a line, etc.
Read about School
Many popular story book series have stories about school. Read these with your child and share your positive attitude about school with your child.
Allow your child to practice carrying trays at restaurants or at home. Practice using polite manners. If you plan to send a lunch box, have your child practice opening all of the items within the lunch box. Hints: Place items in zipper bags or reusable containers. For items in store-bought pouches, use scissors to cut a notch in the seam to help with opening.
Let your child practice hearing stories in a group setting. Visit library story times, or invite neighbor children over for a story time. If neither of these suggestions work for you, create your own “group” from baby dolls and stuffed animals.
Easy Clothes for Toileting
Your child will be expected to use the restroom without assistance. Make sure to send your child to school in clothes that are easy for undressing and dressing when toileting. If your child does not have success with zippers, use elastic waist pants/shorts. Over-all/suspender style outfits are cute, but often end up on the floor when a kindergartner uses the restroom (think about it, yuck)!
Drop off and Pick up
Be sure to follow the route you will take to school several times to help your child get comfortable with the way. Find landmarks to look for along the way. Go over where you will drop off and pick up your child. If your child will be riding a daycare van, visit the daycare and look closely at the van to help the child recognize it.
Pack everything you will need for the next day on the evening before. If sending a lunch box, place all of the non-refrigerated items in the box on the counter. Let your child help select the outfit for the next day the night before and lay out for easy access in the morning.
Use a permanent marker to label everything your child is taking to school, down to the crayons and markers (when they end up on the floor by accident, they can make their way back to their rightful owner). Find out from the school if your child can leave a change of clothing in her cubby (for spills as well as accidents). Make sure to label each item of clothing.
Pictures from Home
Place a family picture in a plastic storage bag in your child’s backpack or lunch box. Your child can look at this special picture during times of stress, rest time, etc.
And Don’t Forget the Camera
Take as many pictures as you can of your child on this special day.