If your child is entering Preschool or Kindergarten for the first time, it can be stressful for everyone. Your little one most likely has mixed emotions about leaving their parents for the first time. They also are worried about making new friends and adjusting to a new wake-up routine. As a parent, you might be feeling sad knowing that your “baby” is leaving the nest. That they are entering the big world without you.
Here are some tips to make the transition a little easier on everyone!
- You should practice some of the daily routines your child may be encountering. Start by waking up a little earlier every day as though they were going to school. Have breakfast and then role play some class activities they might encounter. You can try having circle time on the floor to practice sitting “criss-cross applesauce,” singing songs, or listening to a story. This should only be for about 10 minutes, maybe 15 for kindergarteners, tops!
- Dedicate a space in the house to put their belongings. Also, dedicate a space to hang their backpack and store their jacket or shoes.
- Read some “getting ready for school” books from the library. There are many dedicated to going to preschool and kindergarten. One book I recently picked up for my little niece entering kindergarten at a used book sale but is also a read-aloud on YouTube is Countdown to Kindergarten – First Day of School Books Read Aloud for Kids. And who doesn’t love Pete the Cat Read Aloud: Pete the Kitty’s First Day of Preschool by Kimberly and James Dean.
- I can’t stress enough, practice all the self-help skills your preschool or kindergarten-age child will need! Try putting their backpack on/off and unzipping/zipping their backpack. You can also practice opening a lunch box, opening snack bags and containers, juice bottles, and juice packs. Also, practice having them put their jackets on and off and even try zipping. Here’s a cute video that shows the “dip and flip” method Dip n’ Flip Jacket Song Your teacher will thank you! As an OT practitioner in a public school system, these are some of the basic life skills I encounter every day in preschool and kindergarten. I always encourage the students to try it first themselves and then model it for them if they’re still having difficulty. There are never enough hands to go around to open everyone’s snack and juice containers. Furthermore, the more independent your child is from the get-go, the faster their hungry tummies will be happy!
- If you can, visit your child’s preschool or kindergarten classroom ahead of time so they’re familiar with where they are heading on that first big day. Also, maybe they can even play on the playground! Many schools do meet and greet prior to the first day also. Check with your school about arranging a date to help ease your child’s first day jitters.
- Continually practice potty training if your child isn’t trained yet. Here’s a good read all about that Potty training tips: 6 strategies used by daycare teachers.
In the end, try not to stress about accomplishing everything I mentioned above. Your preschool or kindergarten teacher WILL work on all of this in your child’s classroom too, but if your child has an edge up on these skills, they will feel more confident themselves as well.
Saying goodbye on that first day, whether it’s putting them on a bus or dropping them off at school yourself, is always an emotional day for all. Practicing some of these steps ahead of time will make that first day run a lot smoother. Take pictures and send them on their way. Trust me, your child will not be the only one shedding some tears on that first day! They will be in good company and yes, they will survive!