I realize that to you (and the rest of the world) it has been seven years; but to me, my small girl has hopped, skipped and jumped right from kindergarten to these final days before the 6th grade.
And it is cliché, but I'm not sure how it happened. This back-to-school preparation, both organizational and mental, feels as trying as it did when I was prepping her for that first big day.
Her eyes are still just as big, brown and inquisitive, her freckles still as adorable and her sparkle still as divine if not infused with a touch more sass and splash of impatience for me. But much of the advice I am giving myself right now is the same I offer many of you as you prepare to hold your little one's hand and walk them into school for the very first time.
School is a brand new adventure... talk to your child about how they feel. Are they excited? Nervous? Downright scared? All of those emotions are normal... for them and for you. Try to frame this experience as a positive one filled with new friends and fun (so many of their favorite things!), and in no time they will be back home with you to tell you all about it.
OK, the 6th grade version of this is that I love to keep encouraging her to read, and as the time before school starts, I want her to get back in to the swing of 'school.' But for you moms of new-ones heading off to school, I want to recommend one of my favorites if you haven't already read it: The Kissing Hand. It is the story of Chester Raccoon and how his mom helps to ease his fears as he heads off to school for the first time. It is perfection.
Do everything you can to prepare ahead of time so that school feels 'familiar' and both the school and teachers know everything they need to know about your child. Can you meet your teacher and see the classroom before the first day? Can your child see their desk and where they will leave their backpack? Does your child have any allergies the school needs to know about? Taking care of this ahead of time will ease your mind and your little one's.
The night before the first day, set out their clothes, snack and backpack. In our case, it is a uniform, so there isn't too much 'picking' to be done, but knowing that we aren't on the hunt for socks and shoes makes everyone feel more peaceful.
Think simple — velcro shoes if your child hasn't learned to tie, clothes that make for easy trips to the bathroom and practice taking coats on and off and zipping up backpacks so that those first few days are entirely anxiety free (for both of you).
Ever since my small people were itty-bitty, three quick squeezes of the hand has been our signal for "I love you." It is our way of communicating without saying anything and my way of letting them know I'm right there without a huge display of affection. That simple signal exists so that they (and I) can take a minute to take a deep breath in situations when we both feel a little nervous.
You might feel weepy or break down in full blown tears as soon as you have your child safely ensconced in their classroom. You might throw a party the second you have the house to yourself for the first time in years. No matter what emotion you feel — you are right. Allow yourself to feel however you do, hug that sweet one when they get home and know the year will likely go a bit more quickly than you imagined.
It always does. Good luck, Mom... to you and your kiddos.
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