Summer is winding down and the kids are getting ready to go back to school. Perhaps you have a young one getting ready to start kindergarten in the fall. How can you help your little one prepare for this new routine in life?
Read books about going to school.
“First day at school” is a very popular theme in children’s picture books. Visit your local library or children’s department at your local bookstores to find large displays with many related books. Here are some favorite classic titles:
*Clifford’s First School Day by Norman Bridwell, ISBN 978-0439082846
*Curious George’s First Day of School by H.A. Rey, ISBN 978-0618605644
*First Day of School: A Life-the-Flap Story (Dora the Explorer) by Jorge Aguirre, ISBN 978-1416978480
*Froggy Goes to School by Jonathan London, ISBN 978-0670867264
*The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, ISBN 978-1933718002
*Little Critter: First Day of School by Mercer Mayer, ISBN 978-0060539696
*Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate, ISBN 978-0140562736
*Pooh’s First Day of School by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld, ISBN 978-0786843480
Go back-to-school shopping together.
Take your child with you when you go shopping for school supplies. Let her choose a backpack, lunch box, and water bottle that are special for school. Try to get her at least one new thing if you are using hand-me-downs from older siblings. She will appreciate having something new of her very own.
Let her pick out some special back to school clothes. Even if you are saving money by going to Goodwill, to her they will be new and special.
Visit the new school.
Even if your child has visited the school for functions with older siblings, he still needs to take his own trip to visit his new school. Many teachers make themselves available prior to school starting, or hold a special open house or other get-together option for new students. Call your child’s school to find out and to schedule a special time.
Let him take his special new backpack with him, so that he can see where he has to hang it. Bring in that box of extra clothes for those “just in case” moments. Also try to locate the bathrooms, playground, cafeteria, and any other useful place in the school.
Also, ask the teacher what kind of schedule she maintains and what some typical activities are in the classroom.
If your child will be attending some sort of after school care program, be sure to visit that, as well.
Tour the school bus.
Many school districts have a program in place that allow children to explore their school bus ahead of time. If your child will be riding the school bus, check out this program. Talk about school bus safety. Consider following the school bus the first day, if that would make your child feel more secure.
Play school at home.
Pretend that you are the teacher and your child is the student. Read stories and have circle time. Sing songs together. Try to implement some of the activities that the teacher said to expect. Then have role reversal, and let your child be the teacher.
Get your child’s eating schedule on par with school. Start having snacks and lunch at the times the teacher has said they will be eating.
Try out lunch ideas together.
If your child is going to stay full day, he will have to pack a school lunch. Try new lunch ideas, such as different varieties of sandwiches, wraps, and other fun foods. Make a new one every day. Let your child assist with the food preparation. Practice putting the lunch into the lunch box the night before, then eat together the next day. Include her on his food choices and preparation.
Put on a fashion show.
Look at all of those new clothes for school, as well as favorites still in the closet. Put together different combinations to put on a fashion show. Take pictures of the different outfits and print them off. That way, when school starts, your child can choose the outfit for the next day via picture. She can then lay out her clothes the night before, and save time in the morning.
Establish a bedtime routine.
A few weeks before going back to school, start to implement a regular bedtime, if it has been more relaxed during the summer. Gradually back it up to where it will regularly be during the school year. Also, start waking up at a regular time in the mornings, even if you have nowhere to go. Gradually back up the wake-up time, also. That way, when school starts, your child will be used to the time.
Start laying out clothes the night before, as part of the new bedroom routine. When waking up in the morning, practice getting ready and eating breakfast within an appropriate amount of time as practice.
Practice packing the backpack before school starts. Keep a list, using pictures if possible, of what goes in the backpack, and post it next to the door. You are laying the foundation for responsibility.
All of the best-laid plans and practice are never quite the same as the actual thing. Your child will still experience an adjustment period when school first begins. But some preparation ahead of time will allow him a smoother transition.