Today was my son’s first day of Kindergarten. My daughter went to 4Th grade today. The difference between her first year and his first year was enormous. Before my daughter rode the bus. Now, we walk to school and therefore, my son was going to walk to his new Kindergarten class on the first day. In a large school, unlike any building you have been in before, this can be very nerve wracking. So, in order to make the transition as smooth as possible, here are some tips on setting a schedule for your child to be prepared to take on the school schedule.
If your child does not already have a bedtime routine, now is the time to start. I like to start early with bath time and then after the pajamas get on, we have a snack. That usually starts 1 1/2 hours before bedtime. Snack time usually lasts until up to 30 minutes before bedtime. If they are finished before, they go watch TV or play a little. Thirty minutes before bedtime, we read stories. Depending on how long the stories are, we may read 3 or 4 so that it takes up 30 minutes of time. Once that is finished, it is bedtime. In bed, we have a routine of covering up and I kiss him and his stuffed animals goodnight.
Any type of calm bedtime ritual will soothe your child and make them be able to get better sleep and be well rested for the morning.
Fortunately, my son is an early riser regardless of if I wake him up or not. That makes it easy now. It may be different in the future (as I look at my older daughter’s sleeping habits). Since we live so close, we only have to get up 1 hour before school starts. We start out the day with breakfast and then teeth brushing and getting dressed. He has done this same routine forever. I always speak with him the night before about going to school so he knows what he is doing. He may not like it at the time, but in the end, he goes.
One of the most important things I do each morning is go over what is going on that day. I tell him that he will go to school and I will wait for him and be outside when it is over. That satisfies him enough to want to stay in class. Because I say that, I HAVE to follow through. I leave early to pick him up so that nothing will make me late. I know just one time of me not waiting for him outside will lead to distrust. That is not a good way to start the year.
3. At School
I walk my son to school and we wait together. When it is time to go in, I take him to the class and wait until he is ready to go. I know the day will come that he will not need or want my help down the hallway to his room. That is fine. But until then, I make him feel as comfortable as possible by staying with him until he is ready.
It is a little bit different when your child gets on the school bus. When my daughter rode the bus, I worried all day about how she got to her class and how she got on the right bus on the way home. There was nothing I could do about it and after waiting, she came home on the bus and was fine.
4. On the Way Home
I like to talk to him everyday to see what happened in school. If I engage with him about his daily activities it makes him happy to see my think it is “cool.” We share this moment that I hope will continue as long as possible.
The most important thing I learned about schedules and routines for both of my kids’ first day of Kindergarten was that no matter how you plan your own schedule, stick with it! They like routine. They expect you there everyday after school. They expect the same things you do each time. One time I didn’t read a story and my son said we forgot to read. I haven’t forgotten since that is for sure. Routines may be sticky at first for a young child, but in a few weeks they will get used to waking up and going to that school. They will eventually understand what school breaks are and know you have to go back when they are over. In the end, keeping routines makes the school transition a whole lot smoother.