Here are 11 great ways to prepare kids for the transition to "big school":
1) Read books to your child so that they see reading as a source of enjoyment. In preparation for school, you can choose some books with a "starting school" theme. Our two favorites are: The Kissing Hand and Llama Llama Loves his Mama.
2) Have your child practice printing his/her name with an uppercase letter as the first letter, followed by lowercase letters. Also, practice recognizing the other letters of the alphabet. While you are reading to your child, point out letters, and have them identify them.
3) Teach your child to go to the bathroom on their own. Take them to a public washroom, and have them do everything themselves. Teach them how to lock and unlock a stall door, use soap, get paper towel from a towel dispenser, unbutton and button their own pants, and wipe their own bum.
4) Practice getting dressed. Practice buttons and zippers, and if they can't tie, buy velcro sneakers.
5) Think about lunches. Have your child practice opening containers, and talk about healthy meal options for them. Also, don't be worried if the lunch box comes home full at first. Sometimes lunch at school can be overwhelming and takes getting used to. Encourage your kids to eat their lunch at school, but if it comes home, they can finish it as an after school snack.
6) Talk about what will happen. Before the big day, talk about what will happen... e.g. you'll take the bus, you'll have your own desk, you'll eat lunch in the cafeteria, you'll play outside after lunch, etc... It can also be helpful to tour the school and visit the playground before the first day.
7) Label everything. Your child will lose some of their belongings, and labels will help you get them back. (You can support my blog by purchasing labels through this link. Thank you!)
8) Start traditions. The first day of "big school" is the perfect time to start first day of school traditions. You can read about our families first day of school traditions here.
9) Get up early on the first day, and make sure clothes and lunches are taken care of the night before. Being organized will help ensure that the child doesn't feel rushed, and this will eleviate unnecessary stress on the first day. It might even be worth a "first day run through" the day before.
10) Keep the lines of communications open. Often children are tired after school, and this makes them reluctant to talk about their day. I find that it helps if I ask specific questions after school. e.g. Who did you play with at recess? Who did you play with at lunch time? What did you do when you played outside? Did you make any crafts today? What was your favorite part of the day? Were you a good listener today? What was the worst part of your day, etc.....
11) Empty back packs and do homework as soon as you get home from school (if possible). This is a great habit to get into... and the sooner the better.
What is your best tip for new moms and dads that have little ones heading to school for the first time? Did it make my list?
Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)