Every mom I know has experienced more than a little nervousness when sending their child off to kindergarten – whether their son or daughter is preparing for their first-ever classroom experience or they are more “seasoned” schoolgoers having been to preschool.
In either scenario, parents know that kindergarten is a pretty big deal. There are new rules, school supplies, backpacks and lunchboxes, a new adult and 30+ other little people to get to know. It can all be a bit overwhelming, here are a few tips to making the transition smoother – for kids and their parents – from a mom who’s now been there a few times before.
Give your child an academic advantage
Investigate the things your school district suggests that children are familiar with before entering kindergarten to give your kid a leg up – the things that you might remember being to be taught in kindergarten (ABCs, numbers and colors) are now things little ones are expected to have learned before their first day.
Know that kindergarten is exhausting
Since kindergarten is typically a child’s first full-day school experience, parents should be prepared for their kids to be super tired after school, at least until they get used to the new routine.
Keep after school activities to a minimum for the first few weeks. Set a strict bedtime and work on a morning routine that allows your kiddos as much sleep as they can get – they’ll be happier and perform better in school.
Pick out the next day’s outfit in advance (or consider even selecting clothing choices for the entire week ahead of time so you have one less thing to worry about in the morning rush).
Decide the night before what you’ll serve for breakfast to keep things running smoothly in the morning. In the event that your kids have to eat on the run, I’ve found that good go-to options for the ride to school include whole grain breakfast bars, sliced apples and peanut butter, Gogurts and the individual servings of milk.
Pack lunch wisely
Select items that can be eaten quickly and that kids can open independently. By the time they settle into their seats and wait for someone to help open their lunch items for them — they only have a few minutes to eat. And don’t send a ton of food – they likely won’t have time to eat it all and you’ll end up with half of what you packed coming back home.
Teach your kids bathroom basics
School is often the first place children use a bathroom by themselves. The experience can be a whole lot easier for them if you review rules of etiquette – like washing their hands and flushing the toilet – at home so they know what is expected of them in advance.
Expect to be emotional
Sending your baby off to kindergarten is a bittersweet event, and it’s totally normal to expect that you (and perhaps your child) will shed a few tears. It’s a big change to go from having your little ones home with you to being gone for so many hours a day.
You’ll be amazed at the amount of growth and progress your child makes throughout the school year – academically, physically, socially and emotionally. And if you incorporate any (or all) of the aforementioned, it’ll only help make the transition of this major childhood milestone all the easier.