7 Tips to Help You Get Your Child Ready for "Big School"
The first day of school can be difficult, and not just for your kid. Up to this point, the two of you have likely spent nearly every day together — and now all of a sudden, you'll no longer be doing so. Like it or not, there's going to be an adjustment period.
Your child is probably feeling nervous, too. They're about to immerse themself in an unfamiliar environment, filled with unfamiliar sights, sounds, and people. And they're leaving behind the safety of their home in order to do so.
The good news is that you can prepare both yourself and your child for their first day of big school with just a bit of extra effort.
1. Talk to Them
2. Help Them Pick Out School Supplies
3. Play a Few Games
4. Do Some Rehearsing
5. Get Some Routines In Place
6. Consider a Meet and Greet
7. Learn to Say Goodbye
First thing's first, sit down with your child. Explain to them what school is, what it involves, and what they can expect from their first day onward. Focus on the positive aspects — on the fact that they'll get to learn new things and meet new people.
You should also explain to them their responsibilities as a student, the rules they may need to follow, etiquette for the bathroom/playground, and so on.
But don't just talk. It's important that you listen, too. Let them ask questions, listen to their concerns, and talk them through their fears.
Bring your child with you when you go shopping for school supplies, and do what you can to make the experience fun. Let them pick their own backpack, notebooks, pens, and so on. Give them the opportunity to make their school experience uniquely theirs, and you may find them a great deal more willing to walk out the door when the time comes.
Once your school shopping trip is done, your next step is labeling everything. You want to ensure that if your child misplaces something, the school lost and found knows who to call. This is especially important if your child has a favorite toy they want to bring with them on their first day — you don't want their entire experience to be tainted if they lose that toy.
You aren't just preparing your kids for school on an emotional level. You should also be getting them ready on a mental level, as well. This could include:
Sitting down for regular storytelling sessions with them so they can practice their reading.
Playing board games.
Playing video games that require critical thinking skills.
Sentence starters/mad-libs to help your student with conversation.
Games that involve numbers and/or math.
Unless you've made a point of always engaging in structured play with your child, they may chafe at the rigid schedule they have to follow in school. As a parent, you can prepare them for this through practice. Get them used to timed activities and tasks by scheduling play sessions in different areas of your home and with different items.
While you're at it, you may want to consider acclimatizing them to the idea of recess by adding in a few unstructured play sessions and a scheduled mealtime. You may also practice stuff like hand-washing, and putting on/taking off shoes/coats.
Scheduled play aside, if there's anything worrying your child about their impending trip to big school, you can walk them through it via roleplaying. Help them practice everything from answering questions to making new friends.
Nobody wants to deal with a frantic, mad dash from bed to shower to the bus on their first day of school. In the coming weeks, you'll want to establish a bedtime and morning routine for your child. Not only will you be able to get a bit of much-needed rest, but neither you nor your child will also have to deal with the added stress of running late on the first day.
Is your child's school hosting orientation sessions before school officially begins? Accompany your child to them. That way, you can introduce them to their teachers and help the school feel a bit less scary and unknowable. You might even be able to help them make some friends — and make a few new friends, yourself.
Speaking of which, if you know of any parents with kids who are going to the same school as your child, you might consider setting up a playdate. Provided the children hit it off, the prospect of school will end up being a lot less scary. After all, everything is less frightening with friends by your side.
Bidding your child farewell as they set out for big school is often the hardest part. As always, however, practice makes perfect. Think of something you can say to, do with, or give to your child that will help them curb their separation anxiety.
Don't forget about your needs too, though. Rather than focusing on how fast your kid is growing up, think about how much more free time you'll have on weekdays. Think of all the things you can get done, and consider picking up a hobby. A Future Marked By Hybrid Learning
It's important to note that the advice we've given you so far...may not apply depending on where you are. While some places are nearly back to business as usual in the wake of COVID-19, others are on the verge of a fourth wave. It's worth noting, with that in mind, that your child may not be leaving the house at all, but instead, be learning from home.
You'll still need to do a bit of work to prepare them, but for most kids, a Zoom call's much less intimidating than an unfamiliar classroom.
Finally, if your kids aren't quite school-aged yet (or you have a kid who's still going through their formative years), consider downloading Kindersteps. A science-based early childhood development app created from over three decades of childcare experience, it not only helps you choose better, more engaging activities for you and your child but also acts as a means of commemorating important moments and preserving precious memories.
Kindersteps is currently undergoing a private beta, with a planned launch of Fall 2021.