Beginning preschool or kindergarten is a milestone. Your “baby” is growing up! Naturally, you may be apprehensive for such a change. Take a deep breath, and on the first day of school as you let go of his or her hand, snap a few more pictures, and wipe a few tears (probably your own), know that you have done your part to prepare your little one for the next exciting steps in learning by getting ready for this transition.
Change can be unsettling for parents and children alike, but preparation can take the anxiety out of anticipation. Check out our ten tips for starting preschool or kindergarten!
Tour the school and meet the teacher
If you’re thinking of enrolling your child in a private preschool or kindergarten, call and speak with the school director to set up a tour. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Meet the principal or director and the teachers. Tour the classrooms and all the facilities. You are allowed to be picky; this is a big step for you and your little one. Most public schools will have an orientation session for incoming kindergarten students.
Have a playdate with a classmate
Having a familiar, friendly face to greet your little one on the first day of school is a welcome sight! If possible, try to arrange a playdate for your son or daughter with a soon to be classmate. After the playdate, you can remind your young scholar how much fun it was to play with so-and-so, and how much fun it they will have being classmates all year long!
Read books about school
Books are a perfect way to introduce new concepts and situations to your young learner from the comfort of your lap. Here are a few books we recommend to read the weeks leading up to the start of the new school year to give your child a sneak peek before the first day. For the preschool crowd, we suggest Maisy Goes to Preschool. For your soon to be kindergartner, check out The Night Before Kindergarten.
Talk about Mommy and Daddy’s first day of school
Mommy was a kid once? Daddy too? Yes! And Mommy and Daddy had a first day of school, too! If your first day of school photos survived the ravages of time and are neatly tucked away in an album, take them out and give your son or daughter a history lesson. Talk about what you remember and liked about school. If you were that kid crying in line, be honest! Your son or daughter can only benefit and learn from hearing how Mommy or Daddy overcame fear of a new situation.
Go school supply shopping together
Most schools will send you a list of supplies that that your child will need for school. You can bet that a lunchbox and book bag will be on that list. Choosing these supplies together can memorable, fun, and give your little student a sense of ownership. Give a few choices in the store and let your child narrow it down from there. Sporting that dinosaur or pink fairy backpack can be a help tip the scales in a positive way for a child who may be nervous about starting school.
Have all medical history updated
In order to enter preschool or kindergarten, you will need to provide the school with up to date immunization (or exemption) records and a healthy history, including a list of any allergies and medications. If you need to make a well care visit to get this done in the summer, don’t wait until the last minute. Be sure to give yourself and your child’s healthcare provider lead time to get the necessary paperwork ready.
If your child is entering Kindergarten, there is a good chance that you and your student may be invited to a “social” sometime in late summer to get to know the teacher and meet other classmates and parents. These socials are usually themed – think ice cream social or something similarly irresistible to a 5 year old! This opportunity is different from orientation in the sense that it’s less formal and geared more toward making friends.
Know the curriculum
Be in the know as to what your child will be learning! Get a copy of the curriculum so you are aware of what your child is learning. Preschools will usually have the curriculum for the year in an easy to follow format broken down by month, or if your looking towards kindergarten this pre k curriculum is a good preparation tool. If your child's preschool or kindergarten teacher maintains a class website, be sure to visit it for updates and information about what is happening in the classroom.
Establish a morning routine
Don’t wait until the first day to get ready for school. Ramp up for the first day by practicing your family’s routine. This means that having an earlier bedtime and wake-up time might be in store. If your child is going to school for a full day, be sure to pack lunch the night before, not the morning of, to avoid a rush around. Choose clothes the night before to avoid a “what to wear today” scramble.
There are plenty of ways to stay connected to your child’s preschool or kindergarten, regardless if the school is public or private, full or half day. No matter if you work out of the home or stay at home, there are ways to get involved. If your schedule permits, volunteer as a class mom, lunch aide, library aide, or any number of other positions that may be in place. No matter what, be sure to have the email address of your child’s teacher in case you have any questions, comments or just want to say thank you for being a fantastic teacher!
Want more information about kindergarten?
If you found this article helpful, check out What Teachers Want Your Child To Know Before Kindergarten
Photo Credit 1: Little Miss Eclectic Photography and Erin G.