Q: My five-year old is going to start school in the Fall.
He’s all excited about the whole idea of Kindergarten, but I’m nervous. How can
his mother and I help prepare him for this big change in his life? What can my
wife and I do to prepare ourselves?
A: The first day of school is always a big day for kids-and
sometimes a bigger day for mom and dad. Even though most kids these days have
spent at least some time away from home in preschool or daycare, they’ve been
hearing about this mysterious place called “school” from about the
time they could walk. For you, the closest equivalent to the first day of
kindergarten might be starting a new job in
but you’re not really sure of the rules and the customs.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do before school
gets started to smooth out the transition for all of you:
- Find out from the
school what supplies you’ll be needing. Then, take your son with you to the
store and let him pick out his own pencil box, backpack, and other items. This
will give him something that familiar and all his own to comfort him in his
strange, new environment.
- Meet the teacher.
If at all possible, arrange a visit for you, your wife, and your son to visit
the classroom and meet his new teacher. This will give everyone a chance to
meet and it’ll give your child a lower-stress way to explore the classroom
without the distraction of 15 or 20 other kids running around. Some schools
will actually send the teacher to visit the child at home. Even if this
happens, a visit to the classroom can still be helpful.
- Bedtime. If you
need to adjust your child’s bedtime for the new school schedule, be sure to
start making the change a few weeks in advance. The night before the first day
may be a sleepless night as it is. A big bedtime change the same night will
just add to the stress.
- Bus ride. If your
kindergartner is going to be riding the bus, it might be a bit easier on him if
you or your wife can ride with him on the first day or two. Also, make sure
your young scholar knows when to get off the bus, how to walk home from the
stop, and what to do in the unlikely event that you’re stuck in traffic when he
arrives home. You should make arrangements with a nearby friend or neighbor to
be on standby.
- Share the
experience. Finally, encourage your child to talk about his day when he comes
home. (And try something other than “how was school?”) Let him know
that you think school is interesting and important and he’ll think it is too.