Your child's first day of school or kindergarten is always a moment for pause. Suddenly your toddler is no longer and your 4 or 5 year old is heading out to pastures anew. While it is an exciting time, it can also be quite stressful for both the child and the parents, so removing first day jitters is a number one priority. Good organization and planning will help some of the way, along with being alert for signs of a child's unease and aiming to relieve any potential for distress.
Visit the school or kindergarten in advance
Many schools and kindergartens encourage the student and parents to attend the place before term starts. This way, the child and parents can both become familiar with the location, layout and look of the school. Look for such areas as the classroom, bathroom and cafeteria. This will be a good visual reassurance for your child and will help you to discuss things about the classroom, grounds, lunch area with your child in advance and during school year.
Meet the teacher
It is very important to meet the teacher in advance if possible. That way, both you and your child will feel comfortable with knowing her or him before class commences. This will also ensure that your child recognizes a familiar face immediately upon the first day of class.
Obtain the school handbook
It is important to know the expectations of the school in advance. Ask for a copy and read it well. If you have any questions about the rules, the requests for money etc., ask them as soon as possible. It is also important to work through the rules with your child so that she or he is aware of what is expected during school attendance.
Shop together to obtain school supplies
A big part of the fun is getting school supplies and this should be a shared experience. Following the supplies list given to you by your school, within the boundaries it gives you can allow your child to select his or her own favorite items to take to school. Often there will be leeway on a pencil case style or name stickers etc. that will allow you to personalize your child's things. If the school supplies most of the items already, you can still buy some personalized items such as a pencil case or backpack.
Obtain a class schedule
This will allow you to discuss the day's activities with your child in advance. Try to link this with the things that you do everyday so that the child begins to see the connection between daily schedules of things to do and routine that all of us practice.
From the start, it is really important to get into a routine of being organized, both for you and for your child. Together pack the backpack with the school items. Together select the outfit to wear (or lay out the uniform). In the morning, it can be a great thing to start preparing lunches together as early on as possible. That way, your child has a stake in making healthy lunches and will eventually evolve into packing his or her own lunch a grade or so down the track. Early good habits last.
Reassure your child
Spend time together before school commences talking about school, about your own love of learning and about the friendships that develop at school. Boost your child's confidence by telling positive experiences and of all the things your child will enjoy about school.
Be supportive but also learn to let go
On the first day, give plenty of hugs and reassurance but also be balanced and let go. If you have done a good job beforehand of emphasizing all the positives of attending school and you have involved your child in all the preparations, this should be an exciting and fun opportunity for your child and he or she should feel more willing to attend. Tell your child you'll be waiting for her or him at day's end and be sure to be on time!
Photo by Plind via Flickr; used under CC-NC-SA license. Article adapted from Wikihow; used by permission.
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