Do you have a kindergartener this year? How exciting! Here are some great tips to help your child to transition to kindergarten and love their new school.
Is your child’s school playground open to the public? If so, go there to play during the summer! Invite a friend and make it a play date at the new school playground, followed by lunch. This doesn’t have to be an all-day affair. An hour of playtime and “exploring” the new playground or facility can be plenty for one visit. You can always come back another day—repetition will build up their comfort level.
So… get out their kids’ sneakers, shorts, T-shirts (and sunscreen!), so they can run and play at their new school and tell everyone how they will be a big kindergartner there soon.
A great way to get your child ready for the first day of school is to take advantage of story time in your home. When you read to your child over the summer, work in some fun stories about the first day of school. Your local library or easy online bookseller will no doubt have some great titles to share. Teachers and librarians are excellent resources to ask for the best ones.
When you’re putting them to bed or snuggling up with a fleece throw before nap time, enjoy stories together about the first day of school. Stories about children who overcome their first-day jitters and end up loving their new school can have a powerful effect on a child’s confidence.
School is always more fun if you can have friends right off the bat. Your child will no doubt make new friends once they get to kindergarten, but if any families will have kindergarteners in the same classroom or the same school as your child, set up some play dates in advance. Maybe break out the family swimwear and go to the pool or the beach with them while it's still hot. Maybe you could arrange to go to the school open house together or go school supply shopping together. Having a buddy will make the first-day extra fun.
All kindergartens have an opportunity for parents and children to visit before the first day of school. Take full advantage of this. Tour the school, explore the classroom, spend time chatting with your child’s teacher and encourage your child to find a friend with which to explore the classroom. Little things like learning exactly where they will hang up their kids’ fleece jackets and put their backpacks when they're not in use will be exciting and make them feel more comfortable once school starts.
Even if your child has gone kids’ backpack shopping for pre-school in the past, this is different! They will love going shopping for their big kid kindergartener backpack.
Shop early! It’s amazing how quickly back-to-school items will sell out, and you’ll want to have plenty of selection from which to choose. If you're shopping in a brick-and-mortar store, make sure to guide your child to a selection of backpacks that are parent-approved (i.e., the right size for a kindergartener, follow any restrictions the school might have like not having wheels and have fun colors and age-appropriate designs). Try the backpack on, too. It should be large enough to hold all that fun kindergarten stuff from the lengthy list on the school’s website but fit from a few inches below their shoulders to just above their waist and not be wider than their shoulders. You want them to be able to comfortably navigate the backpack in and out of cars and school buses when it's full.
Make the first day of school extra fun with a special breakfast and the first day of school pictures. Make sure they show off that bid kid backpack by taking at least one photo from the front and one from the back, too!
Plan the morning routine for this day in advance to make sure that you will not be rushed. Chances are, your child will be so excited that getting them out of bed will be easy, but making sure that they have everything they need, have brushed their teeth, have their hair neat, and are ready to go on time could be something else. Plan for some downtime, an easy dinner, a bath, and a prompt bedtime after their first day of school. Meeting new people and learning new routines will be tiring, even when it includes fun things like recess, crayons, and counting games.
Congratulations in advance on a great kindergarten year for your child!