As many parents are hurriedly purchasing school supplies and first-day outfits, starting to feel the pressure a new school year often brings, there are many parents who are feeling a different kind of pressure. The kind that only having one of your children begin actual school — whether they start in preschool or kindergarten — can bring, the kind that feels heavy on your heart and makes you wonder where all the time went. As moms, we know that it doesn’t matter if it’s our firstborn or the baby of the family. Starting preschool and kindergarten is just as big of a milestone for our little ones as it is for us!
Often it can feel overwhelming, the balance of all of the practical to-dos with navigating emotions and jitters. So today we want to share with you some tips that make beginning preschool, kindergarten, or even a new elementary school a little easier. These tips go beyond the cute new backpacks and fresh haircuts (although don’t forget those either!), and help to boost children’s confidence and make this special time just that — special.
1. Have your child practice opening his or her backpack, water bottle, and lunch box.
If they are expected to wear uniforms, have them practice buttoning and unbuttoning pants, shorts, or skirts. Belts, too — or buy them elastic-waist pants to make bathroom breaks a breeze.
2. Get to know your child’s peers, as well as parents.
If your child will attend a new school, consider hosting a play date with 1-2 children in their class or grade. Seeing a familiar, friendly face on the first day of school helps to ease nerves! It’s also great to get to know your fellow parents (you’ll be with them for the next several years, after all). Ask another mom to grab lunch once school starts or coordinate a dance class or soccer team with classmates.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask teachers, admins, or other parents questions.
No question is too silly to be asked when it comes to our children, after all! Anything that helps ease those jitters, and best to be as prepared as possible.
4. Read a devotional to read on school mornings or back to school book.
Filling our children’s minds and hearts with truth gives them so much confidence — a few of our DoSayGive team favorites include Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, The One Year of Devotions for Preschoolers, Everybody Always for Kids, Indescribable: 100 Devotions for Kids About God, and Praying through the Bible for Your Kids (for parents). And if you’re looking for more book recommendations, be sure to browse these sweet back to school books here.
5. Be prepared on the first day of school.
Allow enough time for first day photos. (Some moms will even take photos the day before!) Tell your child the plan for getting to school the first day (will you walk him in or drop off?). Knowing what is going to happen help reduce fears.
Transitions might be hard, and there might be tears (from everyone). That’s all normal! Rest assured that the tears will be short-lived (on their end, at least), and once your child is in the classroom he or she will most likely be okay. Just remember to make drop off quick — say goodbye, give them a big hug, then leave. This helps everyone!
6. Have a few snacks or lunch on hand for them to eat when they get in the car after school.
After a busy time at preschool or kindergarten, children are usually starving when you pick them up. Don’t forget an extra bottle of water!
7. Don’t ask too many questions right when they get in the car.
They are likely tired after all the stimulation, playtime, and learning. Give them a little space (and maybe a little snack!) before you ask about their day.
8. Make sure children get plenty of rest and go to bed early.
If your child is in a half-day program, an afternoon rest time may benefit them. And even if they don’t sleep, a little quiet downtime helps cut down on meltdowns and other behavior issues at home and at school.
9. Start a new tradition to celebrate the start of the new school year.
Whether it’s back to school pictures on the porch, a special cake (like this school bus cake!), or a special breakfast. Children love traditions and the memories that are formed from them are priceless! More back to school tradition ideas, here.
10. Don’t overschedule and leave plenty of time for unstructured play!
Depending your child’s school schedule, be sure to leave ample time for down time. Unstructured play and rest time are crucial for a child’s development. This post might be helpful in making those decisions.
For more back to school tips, encouragement, and ideas, be sure to read the following blog posts!