As summer draws to a close, you are preparing to send your youngest — or only — child to school for the first time. The wide range of emotions you are experiencing is normal, but there are ways to embrace this special time in your child’s life instead of dreading it.
Pride and often bittersweet excitement
Your littlest child is getting ready to enter kindergarten. The last phase of early childhood is over and new adventures begin, which is both an exciting time as well as a time of transition, for both you and your child.
Some moms can’t wait for their new big kid to go to school, while others are a little sad to see them go. With a few tips in mind, the big day will go smoother.
Talk it up
In the weeks before school starts, talk about kindergarten with your child and see what concerns he has. If your child has daycare or preschool experience, it won’t be as mysterious for him, but school newbies may be a little unsure of what to expect. Answer what you can now, and plan to find out answers when you can.
Visit the school
One way to ease the transition to her new school is to visit the building before school begins. Most schools offer back-to-school night, and many plan it before classes begin. This is the perfect time to explore her new environment before the big day. If back-to-school night is after the first day of school, phone the office and see if you can bring your kiddo by before the first day. Most buildings are open in the weeks before school starts and welcome small visitors and their parents.
Meet the teacher
Meeting the teacher can ease a lot of first-day anxiety (both yours and your child’s). They are almost always present at back-to-school night, but if you don’t get a chance to go, you can probably arrange to meet her at another time before school starts.
Make plans for lunch
Brainstorm with your child about school lunch. Will he be taking a lunch from home? If so, talk about what kinds of foods he’d like to eat. Buying school lunch every day? Many schools will have a choice or two (often between hot lunch and sack lunch) so discuss what options he’ll have when he gets there. You can also plan to eat lunch with him some days if you’re able to — that will make him happy.
Try to hold your tears
The first day is hard. Your child may be excited, yet fearful, and you may be too. If you can, hold those tears until she’s climbed on the bus or you’ve dropped her off in her room. Even though it’s OK for your child to see you cry and experience emotions, it can add to the anxiety she already feels in situations like this. “I managed to keep it together when my youngest went to kindergarten until after I left her classroom,” said Megan, mom of three. “Then, I started boo-hooing right away, and unfortunately I had to go talk with the school nurse before I left the building, but I’m glad my daughter didn’t see me sob.”
Once the big kid has returned to home, celebrate with a favorite meal or a dinner out. This begins your child’s academic life — one that won’t stop for nearly two decades — and the milestone should be celebrated, for both you and your child.
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