Getting Ready for School: Supplies AND Support
Schools provide a checklist of materials children will need to be ready for school – washable markers, paper, pencils, tissues, and glue sticks. Check, check, and check! This part of getting ready is clear-cut.
But what about getting “ready for school” on the inside? For some children, kindergarten is their first time being away from home for so long. They may feel worried about all the new children they’ll meet or if they will like their new teacher. Children may wonder if they’ll get lost in the school or if the bigger kids will be mean.
Starting school is often unnerving for young children (and their parents!). Luckily, with a little preparation, adults can help children feel excited and confident about their upcoming school experience.
Tips for Helping Children Feel Confident About Starting School
Keep School in the Conversation
Talk about school in a positive way. Help your child begin to envision what the day will be like. Read books about going to school. Tell stories about when you went to school (the good times!). Be matter of fact. Avoid talking about how much you’ll miss your child.
Explain What Might be Different at School
Tell children about rules like raising your hand, or not sharing food with others. Explain how these rules help everyone get a turn to talk or stay safe and healthy. Children like to know what to expect.
Help Children Sort Out Feelings
Encourage your child to talk about how she is feeling. Listen and let her know that you understand. If your child is worried, assure her that many children feel nervous or scared about school. It’s okay. Tell her that you also feel nervous sometimes when you go somewhere new. Some children may not feel uneasy or anxious; focus on their excitement and positive attitude. To ease the transition, offer your child a keepsake – like a family picture or a special note from dad – that she can take to school.
Visit the School
You may need an appointment, but most administrators are happy to meet new students and offer a tour of the school and classroom. Take advantage of any “open house” opportunities the school offers. Showing children the physical layout is reassuring. Young children are excited to see the library, cafeteria, or playground.
Practice School Habits
Play games that require taking turns. Walk to the bus stop. Pack and unpack the backpack. Practice having a rest time. Read quietly together. Talk about and encourage using an “inside” voice. Hang jackets on hooks. Try to get up and go to bed at the same times that school will require.
Encourage your child to blow his own nose, zip his own jacket, and dry his own hands. Tell him how proud you are when he does! Many children are more successful managing elastic waist clothing than complicated buttons, or easy-fasten shoes rather than lace-ups. Functionality is more important right now than fashion!
Starting anything new is challenging and can be scary. Taking time to also tend to the emotional checklist can result in a well-prepared, more confident child who is ready to take on the world!