Tips for a Smoother First Day of School!
A successful first week of school is in the books! Adelaide had her first day of pre-k and Lincoln has two days of kindergarten under his belt. His kindergarten is half day and part of a private preschool so it doesn’t feel that different from last year when they were both in half day preschool a few days a week … but, he started Kindergarten!
I can’t get much out of him about the day except that “it was GREAT!” The second day was even better because he “started to make a friend!” He literally skipped into the house yesterday and my mom heart could not be happier.
But also, what is this new stage? The kids go to school, come home, have lunch, and go off for a much needed quiet time and by 3pm they are excited to be off playing in the yard together. It feels like I blinked and went from having three little kids who needed me all the time to two full grown children (Westley still needs all the things).
Here are a few things we’ve been doing to help with the transition to school after many months of hardly even playing with other kids:
- Be positive and excited: When I talk about school I stay positive with the kids. If there are things I’m worried about I’ll express those to Ben when they aren’t around but we keep the school conversation upbeat.
- Talk about feelings: All feelings are okay. We have a lot of intentional conversations about feelings around here. The week or two leading up to school I often asked “how are you feeling about school right now?” The answers were usually a mix of nervous and excited. I validate each feeling and ask more questions about it.
- Address worries directly: One of the kids was specifically worried about not knowing anyone so we made a plan for how to get to know kids at school. We talked about other times they didn’t know someone and how they made friends and ended up having a good time.
- Get familiar with what you can: The biggest help was orientation where the kids got to meet their teacher and their class for half an hour the week before school started. I wasn’t sure we’d have this so we drove by the school and I let Lincoln walk around the outside to get a feel for what it would be like.
- Talk through the routine: Kids thrive with routines so we have talked a lot about what the morning routine, drop off routine, and school day will look like.
- Compare to similar experiences: This works really well when handling your child’s worries. Even if they have never been to school before you can compare it to another time they were someplace new and didn’t have mom and dad to jump in and help. Maybe it was daycare. Maybe it was babysitter. Maybe it was Sunday School. Maybe it was a playdate where you left. Talk through how they handled the situation and what will be similar about this one.
- Teach coping strategies / make a plan: If your child has specific things they are worried about (or that you are worried about), make a coping plan. Ask questions like “what can you do when it’s time to play on the playground?” or “What can you do if you need to go to the bathroom?” to help them plan out new situations ahead of time. For a child that is really worried about leaving Mom, consider a special token (stone/coin/something) in their pocket to touch when they get scared.
- Make the big day special: We started with each kid’s requested breakfast (German pancakes for Lincoln’s first day and pancakes for Adelaide’s). My mom had chocolate chip cookies for Lincoln when he got home and when I picked up both kids from school on Friday we had a picnic in the park before heading home.
- Go back to school shopping: Back to school shopping is an easy way to get kids excited about school. Adelaide loved picking out new outfits at Boscov’s and Lincoln liked picking out snacks at Target to pack.
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