The first day of kindergarten is an exciting and frightening day for children as well as parents! Luckily, there are several steps you can take in order to make sure that you and your child will remain calm and start the school year well.
- Take care of the paperwork early. Register your child for kindergarten as soon as the school allows. The earlier this is taken care of, the easier some other steps will become. There will be more time to make sure your child is in the correct class, with the correct teacher. This also gives the school more time to contact you and your child with any information you may need. Never wait until the last minute to register a child for kindergarten!
- Meet the teacher. This depends on the school and their policies, but always inquire about meeting a teacher before the school year starts. If the teacher is available to meet, children will feel more comfortable on the first day of school, as they will not be left with a stranger. In addition, the teacher will get to know your child more quickly. Some schools have kindergarten orientation days, which are very valuable.
Meet friends. This may take more creativity, but see if you can meet other children who will be in the kindergarten class. The school may have a preschool that feeds into their kindergarten. If so, you may be able to meet other parents that way. Ask neighborhood parents if they know of children entering the same kindergarten class.
- Build excitement. Taking a young child shopping for school supplies can help kindergarten feel like an exciting adventure instead of something to be dreaded. Buy your child a special pencil box, with supplies in it - clearly labeled - and tell him specifically that these are to be used when he goes to kindergarten.
- Explain to your child what will happen in kindergarten. Many children have a fear of the unknown. Tell her about some of the things that she will learn, about the playing she will do at recess, where she will eat lunch, and what to do when she needs to go to the bathroom. Ask her if she has any questions. Some of the things that children worry about may not even enter our adult minds.
- Develop a routine. If your child is going to have to get up earlier than normal for kindergarten, begin the process a week in advance so that you don't have to deal with a tired, cranky child in addition to everything. Practice a morning routine, and get everything ready the night before. Panicking or rushing on the first day of school can cause an emotional meltdown.
- Send a token of your love. Depending on the teacher, you may be able to send a favorite stuffed animal with your child. If you don't know the teacher's policy, tuck a small family photo into your child's lunch box or pocket and explain that this is a way to stay together when you are apart. If your child can read, a simple note saying "I love you." can bring him comfort. Remind her that you will see her after school and that she can tell you all about her day!
Although many parents are afraid to see their babies grow up, the first day of kindergarten is a proud one. Make sure your child is ready to learn and make new friends. A little preparation can go a long way toward providing comfort on the first day of kindergarten!