A few tips from Parents’ Press about those exciting, but stressful first few weeks of school:
“Entering kindergarten is a big step, and children know it. Even children who have attended preschool sense that starting “real school” is not only important, but also different from their past learning experiences. Children who have not attended preschool face their first separation from home and family, an adjustment to a whole new world without on-the-spot parental support.
Some children are eager to get on with it, while others find the occasion overwhelming to the point of tears. All children, however, are a little nervous. Parents’ support and understanding of the magnitude of this milestone in their children’s lives can go a long way toward making the first year of school a positive experience. According to child development experts, parents play an important role in shaping a child’s attitude toward school now and in the years to come. A balance of enthusiasm and matter-of-fact acceptance is your goal.
Children are filled with questions about school. Answer all your child’s questions honestly and in as much detail as possible. Sharing details can curb a child’s anxiety and help him or her cope with the stress.
If possible, visit the school with your child before opening day. Some schools offer an orientation session for new students. Meet your child’s teacher if possible, and walk through the school hallways. Show your child the lunchroom, the principal’s office, and of course, the bathrooms. If you can’t visit while the building is open, at leasat walk around the school and let your child investigate the playground. Share your own memories of kindergarten. If your child will go to an after-school program (even if just across the school yard), walk over the route ahead of time, and visit if possible.
Start the “school day” routine about a week before classes begin, with early bedtime, awakening, dressing, and breakfast.
Remember that entering kindergarten is stressful. Plan extra quiet time and rest for the first month; keep family activities simple and familiar. Try not to begin other new activities and classes during this time. More free play time at home helps to balance the more structured environment at school.
Review the kindergarten day’s schedule with your child. Make sure your child knows where to meet you after school, or how to go to his after-school program. Make sure your child understands basic traffic safety rules and follows them.
Make it a point to get to know your child’s teacher and the school. Ask about current and upcoming activities, and plan to attend parent-teacher conferences. Volunteer to help in the classroom and get involved with the parent-teacher organization; if you can’t get away from work, ask about other ways you can help.
When the time comes to say “goodbye” for the first time, go! Give a final hug or kiss, a reminder that you will be back by a certain time, and a firm goodbye. Some children do cry and cling when it comes time for a parent to leave, but it seldom helps to stretch out the goodbyes.” For a humorous take on the first day of kindergarten, check out Mrs. Beekman Go Home by Anne Redisch Stampler.