by Meghan Hamilton

first day of kindergartenIt's the end of January. Christmas is still a pretty fresh memory and children are getting excited about Valentine's Day. But, for you, the parent of a pre-k'er, this should be a time of preparation. Kindergarten is right around the corner and taking some steps to make sure your child is mentally and psychologically  (it's not just about academics) prepared for their first day of school is incredibly important. Like us, children are creatures of habit. You are about to completely change their daily routine, so give them ample time to get used to the idea. The following is a list of things you can do to help ensure an easy transition to Kindergarten. They could even be adapted to older children who are transitioning to a new school because of a move or other circumstance. Hope you find it helpful!

Take your child on a tour of their new school.
By now you should know where you are sending your child for Kindergarten. Whether you have decided upon your “district school” or another alternative, you should be well on your way toward registration. Actual registration dates vary from school to school and district to district. Know when these dates are and be aware of any extra paperwork that you may need to file (i.e. inter/intra-district transfers).

Schedule a day & time when you and your child can meet their teacher and see the classroom.
Most schools are very open to this. If a school is not OK with you coming in to visit, that should be a “red flag” for you and you may want to consider another option. Giving your child the opportunity to have some interaction with the teacher and see their future classroom will help to put their minds at ease. When you speak of Kindergarten, they will be able to picture it in their mind, taking anxiety out of the equation. If time allows, let your child participate in a class activity or recess. Chances are they will have a great time and will be excited to go back.

Talk about their new daily schedule for fall.
Tell your child exactly how their day will go once they start Kindergarten (i.e. “We will wake up at 7:00, eat breakfast, get in the car and I will drive you to school. Once there you will learn, have recess and then I will pick you up at ___.”). Use a clock as a tool for illustrating this, and you could even print out a “daily schedule” and place it in their room. Discuss their new daily schedule regularly so they begin to become accustomed to it well before their first day of school.

Pick a special day to purchase a new backpack and lunchbox for Kindergarten.
Allow your child the opportunity to be a part of this process. A few new things create excitement for their new adventure.

Be ready to provide water and healthy lunches.
Water is incredibly important to our body and brain function. Have a water bottle ready that your child can take it to school on a daily basis. Also, if your child will be eating at school, pack them food that will “fuel” them. Children’s brains need glucose from fruits (and water) to function and develop properly. Make sure your child’s lunch is packed with lots of yummy “good for you” options. We recommend visiting for lunch ideas.

Drive by their new school often.
Work into your routine a weekly “drive-by” of their new school. It will give you both an opportunity to talk about this new adventure and it may prompt questions from your child.

Make Kindergarten an adventure!
If you are excited and confident about your child entering Kindergarten, then your child will be too. Keep in mind that they look to you for reassurance. If you are nervous, they will be too!

Don’t linger on the first day.
Make sure you are both prepared to say goodbye on the first day. Have a plan. If you are going to stay for the first ten minutes, then have a plan for it. If you are going to walk them to class and then say goodbye, have a plan for it. Talk your child through that first day. For example say something like, “Tomorrow is your first day of school. You must be so excited! I am going to walk you to your classroom, stay for ten minutes and then I will say goodbye so you can start to learn.” Once you set a plan in motion, stick to it. There may be some tears (from you and from your child), but lingering will only hinder this process. By confidently sticking to your plan you are letting your child know that you feel good about them being at school without you. They will pick up on your confidence and make it their own. This will NOT be easy, but you CAN do it.

That’s it! You are ready for an amazing first day of school! Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about your child's first day of school and email me I would love to help you and your little one have an incredible first day of school!

If you are a parent, open doors to unknown directions to the child so he can explore. Don't make him afraid of the unknown, give him support. - Osho


Meg and TomMeghan Hamilton is a co-owner and author of Fusion Early Learning (Preschools & Curriculum). Meghan’s passion lies in educating young children in ways that excite and intrigue the learner, opening them up to a wider array of educational experiences. Meghan currently lives in Northern California with her husband and business partner Tom, and their two children Jack and Emma.