Your child’s first day of kindergarten is bitter sweet. Happiness with some sadness sprinkled in. It’s a milestone, not just for your child but for you too. The first day can be stressful for you, your child and also your child’s teacher.
I have a few suggestions to help eliminate some of the stress for everyone……………
Before school starts:
1. When your child is young, make sure they have a variety of situations where they are not with you, so they learn that you come back. When they go through that stage at around 9 months where they only want mommy they need to spend time with others caregivers. It is a stage they all go through but eventually grow out of because they learn you come back. Four or five years later you leaving them and coming back is a routine that will make that first day of school easier for both of you.
2. Get the supply list and go shopping with your child. When you buy them, the supplies become just something that you brought home. When your child goes with you and takes the box of crayons off the shelf, they have an investment in it. If they can hand the cashier the money to pay for it, then they learn it would take more money to replace it. Then, if the teacher sends you a note in October that your child needs new crayons because they broke all of them, you will be able to tell your child that they will need to replace the crayons with their piggy bank money. It’s the Love and Logic way of natural consequences.
3. If your school does not have a meet and greet day before school starts, make arrangements to visit the teacher and the classroom. The unknown is always a bit scary.
4. Children can be apprehensive about going to school without telling you. The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn is an excellent book to help reassure children about school.
The Night Before School:
1. This one is easy…. pack the backpack and lunch, pick out clothes, early bath, read The Kissing Hand one more time, talk about the schedule for tomorrow (who will take to school, who will pick up and at what time, etc) and then to bed on time.
First Day of School:
Please remember, this is probably the most hectic day of school for the teacher. The teacher has already spent long hours in the classroom for at least a week getting ready for your child. They probably got to school early to finish up so they will be able to greet each child as they come through the classroom door. They would like to visit with you, but with (in my case) 19 other families also needing attention, they can’t that very first morning. If your child has medical issues they need to know about, then make an appointment to see the teacher before the first day. If you think they need to know that your child doesn’t get along with another child, it can wait…..if they can’t get along, the teacher will probably figure that out very quickly.
1. Before you leave home tell your child if they have a lunch or ordered a lunch. Show them where their snack is and have them make one last bathroom stop. Make sure they eat a good breakfast. Ask them if they want a Kissing Hand.
2. When you arrive at school walk your child to their new classroom (be prepared….at some point in their school career they will tell you they don’t need you to walk them in). Ask the teacher if it is OK for you to come into the room.
3. Ask where supplies and backpacks should go. Don’t just leave them by the child’s desk.
4. Take pictures if you desire.
5. Unless the teacher tells you differently, don’t stay more than 5 minutes. This is especially important if your child is crying. The longer you stay, the harder it is for them to separate. Most of the time, for about 90% of the criers, shortly after mom and dad have left, the crying stops…….yep, a guilt trip just for their parents. For the other 10% it usually doesn’t last more than a couple of days…..maybe two weeks but not all day and we have never had one go all year! This is one of the reasons it is important to meet the teacher before the first day. It makes it easier for the teacher to comfort the child and for the child to accept it. Those that can’t separate are usually the children without prior experience of different caregivers.
6. Be on time to pick your child up! If your child was worried that you wouldn’t be back to pick them up, then you have to be on time. Tell your child ahead of time if you will be at the door to pick them up or if you will go through carpool if that’s an option. If you have a bus rider, tell them you will meet the bus.
7. Ask your child about their first day. They probably won’t tell you unless you ask specific questions. It was a busy day and they learned a lot of information about class routines and rules. If your child was unhappy about staying at school, make your day sound really boring. They probably had a lot more fun than you did and will think it might not be so bad after all.
1. If your child cried on the first day, don’t walk them into the room (I actually don’t allow any parents in my classroom the 2nd day as we need to establish our morning routine and it is harder to do with parents talking and moving about). Skip carpool drop off. Say your goodbyes at home and let someone else take them to school but remind them who will pick them up. You could also say your goodbye at the classroom door or at the bus stop.
Remember a successful first day of school happens when your child knows that you love them, that you will always be there for them but there are times when you will need to be apart. If they have had prior experience with separation from you, then the first day of kindergarten ( mother’s morning out, preschool, or day care) will be a breeze for you and your child.