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Family Matters: 14 Mom-to-Mom Tips for Back to School

Friday, August 12, 2011


Preparing children for the first day of school will make the transition a bit easier. I have found I need these tips as much as my kids do—needing more help adjusting to my only two kids starting kindergarten at the same time. Now that they'e been in the same school for a few years in a row it's more about us all getting back into the groove of school.

So whether your kids are starting preschool or kindergarten or transitioning to a new grade or new school, try these tips and let us know how they worked, or add your own ideas, below.


Tip #2: Get them used to separation.

Practice going to school.
Get familiar with the route and the routine before the first day of school. Point out fun landmarks along the way.

Get them used to separation.
If your kids are not accustomed to being apart from you, it’s wise to begin the process. A few weeks before school starts, have grandparents or a babysitter watch your child for several hours. Arrange drop-off playdates for your child. The critical point is demonstrating that you’ll come back for them at the appointed time and place.

Meet kids in the class.
Find out the names of their classmates if possible. Schedule playdates or see if the school or parents association has arranged any class gatherings before the first day.

Give children control over what they can control.
Let them make simple choices like picking the color of their backpack or their outfit on the first day of school.

Teach them the basics.
Help your child learn their name, address and phone number.

Give them a reminder of home.
Hang a family photo of your family from your child’s backpack or place one inside. Or let them stash a special keepsake inside their bag.

Describe what will happen on the first day.
Sometimes it is hard for children to imagine what it will be like at a new school or in a new grade. Talk to them about the sequence of events in their day so they can form a mental picture in their head and ease their tension.

Read books about starting school.

Ask your child specific questions, such as:
“What are you really looking forward to?”
“What do you think the hardest part of school is going to be?”
“Is there anything that worries you about starting school?”

Beware of what you promise.
Try not to make promises about things you cannot control.
For example: “You will love your teacher and make lots of new friends.” Although we wish this for our children, we do not want to set them up for disappointment. Try instead "I cannot wait to hear about what happens today at school."

Start going to bed earlier.
One or two weeks before school begins, start to emulate your school routine – which may mean going to sleep earlier or waking up earlier.

Learn about the drop-off policy.
Find out if the school allows/encourages parents to walk into their child’s classroom and how long they can stay. If you anticipate that your child will need extra time to adjust, talk to the teacher before school starts, if you can.

Create a first-day-of-school tradition.
Make a special breakfast, take a photo of your child ready for school in front of the house, tuck a love note in their lunchbox, or plan a special snack when they come home.

Plan ahead how you will say goodbye.
What does your child need? What will be most helpful for you and them to make the transition – a quick hug, five minutes of cuddle time or a chance to talk about their day?

Anisa Raoof is the publisher and founder of Kidoinfo, the parents' guide for Rhode Island and beyond.

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