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Next month my oldest child starts kindergarten. Guys, that’s elementary school. Where the big kids go!
Give me a minute while I take a deep breath here…..
To say that I have a lot of feelings about it is an understatement. Luckily he’s just full of excitement and doesn’t have any worries or fears about starting school.
This summer we’ve been doing a lot to prepare him and get him ready for the big day. I’ve been trying to think of everything I can to prepare him for such a big change. Today I want to share some tips and talk about how to prepare your child for kindergarten so you’ll both be ready for the first day of school!
1. Go to bed early and wake up on time. If your child hasn’t ever gone to school before, or if you’ve been staying up late together during the summer, this is especially important. For two weeks before school starts, make him go to bed at the time he’s going to during the school year, and have him wake up at the right time in the morning so that he has time for his morning routine (breakfast, getting dressed, shower, brushing teeth) before the time you would have to leave for school (or before the time the bus will be coming). Little J’s school starts at 9:25am, so I don’t think we’ll really have a problem there since we already are all up and eating by 7:30am most days! But, like I said, if you’ve been staying up late and sleeping in, this is going to be important and helping your child adjust to his school schedule! Maybe even getting a new alarm clock with their favorite character or bright colors would help get your child excited about going to bed on time!
2. Time their lunches. I know that sounds weird, but most days, my kids take like an hour to eat lunch. And the kindergarten class gets 25 minutes to each lunch at his school. So we’ve been timing him and I’ve been trying to remind him that if he doesn’t eat all his food in 25 minutes, he won’t get to eat it all at school. It’s actually been helping him focus more and eat his food instead of messing around and playing with his brother and sister during lunch. And it makes me feel better because I know by the time school starts, he’ll be eating his lunch in 25 minutes (or less, probably) and he won’t be hungry at school.
3. Go school shopping! I am so, so excited about this one. I always loved school shopping growing up, and even Little J’s little kindergarten list got us both excited! It’s not very long, but he’s excited to go pick out notebooks and tissues and glue sticks for his classroom. He got a new backpack for preschool last year, so the big thing he’s looking forward to this year is picking out a lunch box. He’s got it narrowed down to Star Wars or Jurassic World, so we’ll see what he picks. If you can’t find one your child loves in store, check online! And if your child needs new clothes or shoes for school, don’t forget about those! We’re going to go shop for clothes once it starts cooling down, but we might buy a few pairs of pants for our son before school starts. Either way, make it fun and make sure your little kindergartener is involved!
4. Go to any Meet the Teacher/Welcome to Kindergarten nights your school offers. A few months ago we went to Little J’s Welcome to Kindergarten night and he loved it. He got to ride the school bus around the parking lot, meet some of the teachers and other kids, see what a kindergarten classroom is like, and even be separated from me while he was in the classroom for a while. It was a great, easy way to familiarize him with the school and classroom. Once he gets his teacher, we’ll go back for Meet the Teacher night, and I’m sure that will get him even more excited to start! Plus it will help him meet a few other kids in his class and get comfortable with his new teacher before the big day!
5. Get your child involved in deciding what kinds of lunches they want. We plan on mostly making lunches for Little J, but I’m going to let him look at the school menu each month and do hot lunch a few times, too. And since sandwiches can get pretty boring pretty fast, we’ve been coming up with lots of different ideas for lunches and things he wants me to pack. Waffles with peanut butter, bagels, cheese and crackers, muffins, cheese sticks, quesadillas, nachos, tortilla pinwheels, meatballs, pancakes, pizza, corn dog muffins, you get the idea. I found this awesome site that has tons of ideas, so I plan on going off of that for a while until I get the hang of packing school lunches. I also plan on using disposable stuff for now since I am sure Little J will forget and throw things away if they’re reusable. He’s only in kindergarten, after all!
6. Have quick breakfasts on hand for mornings where you’re running behind. No matter how hard you try, some mornings, you’re just going to run behind. We’ve got two other kids at home besides Little J, so I’m sure at some point we’ll be running late. So I plan on having lots of quick breakfasts on hand for those mornings. Things like Gogurt, frozen waffles, cereal bars, premade smoothies, or even frozen breakfast sandwiches are easy to grab and eat in the car. I’m not saying these are breakfasts for every morning, but it’s nice to have a box of one of these in your pantry or freezer, just in case.
7. Read books about starting school together. There are so many great books about kindergarten out there, specifically written for kids going into kindergarten. I personally love using books to help my kids with things they’re dealing with, and it really helps them see that it’s normal to worry and give them an idea of what to expect. I plan on checking out The Night Before Kindergarten and Kindergarten, Here I Come! from the library the next time we go (if you’ve read any others you love let me know in the comments so I can include them here!).
8. Keep in mind it’s going to be hard at first. One piece of advice a friend gave me that has stuck with me is that the first week is the hardest because it’s a big transition. It’s hard for your child physically (especially if they are going to full-day kindergarten), emotionally, and even socially. For the first week or two, your child might be a tired, grumpy mess. It’s probably also going to be hard on you at first. We’ve had Little J home every day for most of the day since he was born (he had preschool three days a week for 2 1/2 hours but that’s the only time he’s ever really been away from home), so it’s going to be weird for both of us not having him home all day.
Getting ready for the first day of kindergarten is a big deal, regardless of whether it’s your first child in kindergarten or your third. I hope these tips come in handy and help you both prepare! So far, they’ve helped us feel like we’re getting ready! Kindergarten, here we come!