The Very, Very 1st Day of School
By: Nilmari Donate-Melendez, MA
"How to prepare your pre-schooler for the first day of school"
Close your eyes, go back into memory lane and try to see yourself on your very first day of school. What do you remember? A happy day or a sad day?
The very first day of school can be a hard transition for many children, specifically for those that have been at home with mommy or daddy for the past 3 or 4 years of their lives. I can not promise that this is going to be a smooth transition; I remember with my oldest, I spent the 1st week sitting in the stairs of the school with a crying child grabbing my pants. A scene from a horror movie. But as many of us who decided to keep popping children, we know that it gets better with time. Here is a couple of tips that can help you and your child with this hard transition.
1. Talk to your child about school- not only about PK, but talk about the upcoming years (and throw college in the conversation!)
2. Schedule a private visit to the school- many school principals will allow you to visit the school prior to the 1st day and even meet the teacher. For my middle child, I even wrote a letter to the teacher with specifications about my son. (Likes, dislikes, favorite toys, ways to calm him down, ect...)
3. Let your child know that you are coming back- if possible, get him/her a watch and teach him at what time you will be picking him/her up. "When the watch is at 2:00 pm, I'll be here waiting for you"
4. Let them know it is normal to be afraid- the first day of school can be scary for many children. New people, new friends, even new food! Explain that being afraid is ok and that people usually feel nervous or afraid when they are trying something for their first time.
5. If possible, send a favorite toy or family picture in their backpack- sending something familiar in his/her backpack can alleviate the tension of being in the unknown.
6. Serve a good breakfast - remember, this is the first day your child may be trying school breakfast and lunch- there is a big possibility, believe me, that they don't won't like it. Make sure your "baby" is fed on his/her first day.
7. Make it a memorable day- although there are going to be a lot of "first days," nothing compares with the very, very first day of school. Take lots of pictures. This is the perfect time to start a school tradition. Make sure you include a board with the day and year in the picture.
8. Arrive to the school, walk them inside, greet the teacher with a big smile, promise you will come back, kiss them goodbye and try not to cry!
9. Go back to the car and promise yourself to drive away!
10. Come back and greet your child at an agreed location. Hug them for a long time. Congratulations, you both survived the very, very first day of school!
Happy 1st Day of School!!!