What do they say? “The days are long, but the years are short?” (See just how short here.) I wrote this post a while back and now that my girls are entering the 5th Grade, I realize how far we’ve come. Wow! For those of you just embarking on all that is Elementary School… Here are a few tips to help your little one (and YOU, cause who are we kidding…. this is a big one!) have a great first day of Pre-K or K!

 
(This post is a part of a series to help you get your little one ready for their big first day of K! If I haven’t answered a question you have in the post below or included links, please free to send me a question in the comments below (let me know if you want me to share it anonymously) and I’ll do my best to get back to you ASAP!)

Helping your Child Prepare for the 1st Day of K! (or TK)

How does your child feel about their first day of kindergarten?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your child’s feelings. It’s perfectly normal to be nervous on the first day.

When my girls were little, we both wondered what Kindergarten will be like. Before their first day, I sent out an email to some veteran parents to give their suggestions on helping our girls make the big transition. Based on their ideas and my experience, here are five things you can do to help make their First Day a great one:

1. Ask Questions

Just because your kids aren’t talking to you about Kindergarten doesn’t mean that they aren’t worrying about their first day. It took me a while to coax out of my girls some of their fears. Even though they loved pre-school, I was surprised with some of the questions they had. I wrote the list down to show that I was serious about investigating their very real concerns. At the top of the list was, “What if I need to go potty and the teacher is talking?”, and “Will we get homework?” and “I heard you get time out for coloring outside of the lines. Is it true?” (This last question was of course fueled by one of their friend’s older brother.)

2. Play School

Kids don’t just play pretend because it’s fun, they also do it to practice new skills. Ham it up with your kids and help them overcome their fears at the same time. Focus on practicing some specific skills that will be useful on the first day: raising your hand to ask to go to the bathroom and making a friend are a few to try. You can even take turns being the teacher! Kids will love the opportunity to role play and being the teacher is also a silly and fun way to give them confidence on their first day.

3. Share Positive Experiences

Kids love to hear that adults have struggled with similar fears and challenges. Talk about times you were afraid or lonely and what you did to overcome your fear. Better yet, talk about some really fun things you remember about Kindergarten or grade school. Did you have a best friend? A favorite teacher? An art project or activity you did that was really fun? Books are another great way to learn through the experience of others. Check out my favorite book list here.

4. Pack Some Love

I got two great ideas for easing first week jitters from a friend of mine (thanks Marivel!) You can’t bring a teddy or blankie to school, but you can pack a picture of the family in their backpack. You’ve probably heard of packing a note in your child’s lunch. You can also use a sharpie to write your note (or silly picture) directly on their banana. Or check out this post with some great Lunch Box Love Notes

Read About It – I’ve mentioned before, reading is a great way to talk about feelings and ideas. By reading about how others deal with fears and challenges you can talk with your child about what they might try. Click here to see my recommended book list.

5. Go on a Field Trip… To School!

The week before school starts, schools are gearing up for the first day as well. Teachers are meeting with administrators to plan instruction and working to set up their classrooms. This is a great time to make a visit to the school when there is not a lot of hubub. Don’t expect to talk with your child’s teacher as they may be busy in meetings or setting up. If you would like to look inside the school, make sure to stop by the main office to say, “Hi!” to the main office assistant (or principal if she is there). She may be OK with you and your child looking around a bit.


Here are some other posts to help your child’s first day be a great one!

What are you doing to prepare your little one for their first day? Share your ideas for other parents in the comments below.

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. These are awesome tips, Ali! The banana thing works great for us :) And yes, definitely visiting the school was key. Ours had an ice cream social where he even got to meet his future teacher and principal.

    Reply
    • Ultimately, I think it’s really about community right? We want our kids to feel excited to be a part of a warm and loving community that values their unique and special talents.

      Reply

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About alimcollins

Ali Collins is an educator, community organizer and mom. She lives with her husband and twin girls in San Francisco, CA.

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K-readiness, Parenting

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