Want to make the transition to preschool/kindergarten as smooth and stress-free as possible (for everyone involved!)? Here are 8 ways to prepare your kids for their first year of school.
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In just a few short weeks, I will be sending my youngest child – my baby! – to preschool. This will be my third time ushering a kid into his/her first year of school, and it’s a bit surreal that this will be my last. I’m a bit all over the map with my emotions, to be honest. On the one hand, I’m slightly saddened by the reality of being kid-free several mornings a week for the first time in nine years. On the other hand… I’m a bit excited about being kid-free several mornings a week for the first time in nine years. Hah!
With this being my third go-around, I’m no stranger to the process. I’ve learned a few things over the years, both from sending my own kids to preschool and watching others send theirs. And while this can be a tough transition for both kids and parents, there are things we can do to make it easier on everyone.
8 Ways to Prepare for the First Year of School
Want to make the transition to preschool/kindergarten as smooth and stress-free as possible (for everyone involved!)? Here are eight ways to prepare your kids for their first year of school.
1. Speak Positively About It
I understand the blues that can accompany sending our little ones off to school (I feel them, too!), but kids take their cues from us, so express excitement about this new adventure! Describe what they’re going to learn and do. Fuel their curiosity and eagerness to start school. And foster a love of learning, in general. Your positivity and excitement will rub off on them, and you’ll likely find yourself more prepared for the transition, as well!
2. Talk About Their Feelings
If your kids are dreading the first year of school, find out why. Ask questions to find out what, specifically, they’re worried about or afraid of. Listen to their feelings, empathize with them, and then offer any necessary reassurances (in that order!).
3. Read Books About School
Oftentimes, anxiety about the first year of school stems from a fear of the unknown. You can help minimize the unknowns by reading books about school. A few good books can give kids a better sense of what to expect, ease their fears, and build excitement for all the fun to come.
A few favorites include:
- On the First Day of Kindergarten
- Butterflies on the First Day of School
- The Berenstain Bears Go to School
- A Letter From Your Teacher: On the First Day of School
- School’s First Day of School
4. Discuss Routines & Expectations
Take that preparation a step further by talking to your kids about some of the new routines they’ll have, such as getting ready in the morning, pick-ups and drop-offs, and a typical school day schedule. Another good thing to do with your kids before the first day of school is talk about some of the classroom expectations: sitting in their seat, raising their hand, keeping their hands to themselves, etc.
5. Play School At Home
After teaching the above classroom expectations, play “school” at home to practice. Not only will this help reinforce those new skills, it’ll be a fun activity for you to do together. After all, play is one of the best ways to learn at that age!
Related Post: 10 Things Parents Need to Know About Play
6. Visit their Classroom and Meet the Teachers
Again, the unknown and the unfamiliar can be scary for kids, so if at all possible, visit their classroom before the first day. Try to meet their teacher(s), as well. If that’s not possible, at least take them to their school to see the building and playground.
7. Plan Something Special for the First Day
Help ease any lingering anxiety by planning something special to do on the first day. This will give them something to look forward to and surround the start of school with positive associations and cherished memories. On each of my boys’ first days of preschool, I drew hearts on both their hand and my hand for them to look at whenever they started missing me. They loved it! Preparing your kids’ favorite after-school snacks, doing a favorite activity after you pick them up, or sticking a note in their lunch box (if they’re at school for lunch) are other ways to make the first day special.
Related Post: 15 Back-to-School Traditions Your Family Will Love!
For even more ways to ease the transition into the first year of school, any of these 10 Ways to Prepare for Back to School would be helpful! And if you have older kids, they’ll help the entire family get back into the school year swing.
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