As a former kindergarten teacher, I often observed how stressed and anxious many parents were prior to the first day of kindergarten.
It’s not their fault. No one has given them a parent guide with what to expect and a plan of action. The first day of kindergarten is an exciting time, but it can also be stressful. With the time for kindergarten registration upon us, to ease some of that stress, parents should take action to set themselves — and their child — up for success.
Here are five tips for a successful start to kindergarten:
•Attend “Meet and Greets” offered by the school
It’s important to find out what the protocol is for the first day of school. That way, there are no surprises. Attending a school “Meet and Greet” allows you and your child to meet the teacher, other classmates and find his or her desk. This will help your child feel more comfortable with his or her new surroundings.
Share important information with your teacher. For example, if you are divorced and sharing custody, make sure your child’s teacher knows how your child is going home each day after school, starting on the first day. This will give you peace of mind during those first days of kindergarten, knowing your child is safe both at school and on the journey back home.
It’s helpful to inform the teacher of any special circumstance, such as a move, the death of a parent, grandparent, or divorced parents. These circumstances create understandable stress that a qualified coach can help alleviate.
Buy your child a large backpack to hold everything needed for school. It’s easy for children to misplace or lose items they are carrying. By having a large enough backpack to hold their papers, lunchbox and even a jacket, they won’t leave the classroom with anything in their hands. Having it all safely in one place saves time and money in the long run. I can’t count the number of expensive winter coats that children lost because their backpack was cute and small — rather than roomy and practical.
•Get organized and prepared at home
Have a file tray, drawer or special place for the folders, as well as a special spot for school library books that your children bring home. Maintain a separate folder for each of your children for important school papers. This will save you time, and keep everything running smoothly during the school year. Choose a designated spot in your house for displaying your children’s special artwork, projects or important papers. Your children will feel proud of their accomplishments on display.
•Develop a homework routine
Developing an after-school routine is essential for a peaceful home. Your child may need a short break and snack, but then it’s homework time! This will lighten the stress for everyone in the house. The later it gets, the more difficult the homework becomes. Support your child with their homework, but don’t do it for them. Homework is part of building an effective school routine.
One more important tip: Don’t forget to snap a picture of your child on the first day of kindergarten. There will only be one first day of kindergarten, and memories are precious.