For many families, Tuesday is a big day - their child’s first day of school or first day at a new school.
In a perfect world, you have been talking to your child about this big change and maybe even have visited the new classroom already. But if you’re like me, a working parent who can barely get dinner on the table (actually, my husband usually does that) let alone plan for something weeks in advance, you probably are just thinking about this now as you plan your trip to Target for sharp pencils and new Crayolas.
It’s not too late to do a little emotional prep work, according to Melody Regino, school counselor at Greene Street Friends School, and Michelle Linder-Coates, an executive director in the Office of Early Childhood for the School District of Philadelphia.
Instituting a school schedule at home can help, Regino said. Start having a daily story time and snack time to mimic the school day.
“It would be helpful to even know the terms used at school. Is it snack time? Is it story time,” Regino explained.
Make sure your kids go to bed at the hour they will need to during the school year. Parents often let that slip during the summer, making for tired children in September and October.
Take your child to the school ahead of time, Linder-Coates said. You may even be able to go in the building, see the classroom and meet the teacher, she said.
“Children have separation anxiety not only from their parents but from old and familiar environments, as well,” Linder-Coates said. “They're used to routines.”
You can also read to your child about the change. Regino and Linder-Coates recommended these titles:
Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten
Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come (also available in Spanish)
The Kissing Hand
When Dinosaurs Go to School
Tomorrow: A few more thoughts on those first days of school and a fun video on the topic.