Prepping your Child for their First Time at School

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FeeLoona / Pixabay

With preschool and kindergarten starting this month, we wanted to share some tips for making sure the transition continues smoothly!

  • There are lots of great books with themes about starting school—many of them involve characters that your child already knows and loves (keeping familiar things close is very comforting during times of big change). Snuggle up together and share a story: you’ll be increasing your child’s feel-good sensations around learning and reading!
  • Start a routine at home that practices skills your child will need to do on their own (like self-care tasks around washing hands, taking off and hanging up jackets, etc.). Make-believe you’re at preschool with your child and take turns being the teacher and the student!
  • Try not to diminish or deny the feelings your child has around starting school. Avoid saying things like “there’s nothing to worry about!”. Instead reassure your child, saying “I understand that you’re feeling nervous about school—it’s such a different and exciting experience!” and brainstorm ideas on ways your child can comfort and calm themselves. Labelling our emotions and building strategies before the meltdown allows us to move towards action instead of being overwhelmed. Having a strong emotional vocabulary and sense of resilience is an important school skill to work on, and one even adults need help with sometimes…which reminds us:
  • You are excited for your child’s new adventure, looking forward to regaining some alone time, sad to say goodbye to the early years, and worried about your child’s future success. Starting school can be as difficult for you as it is for your child. Help manage some of those feelings by following your own advice—acknowledge them and build in some strategies:
  1. Plan a first-day coffee date with other parents who have school-starters
  2. Organize a special event with other family members who are home with you during the day (they’ll be missing your little one too)
  3. Go ‘back-to-school’ yourself and pick up a new hobby or activity that you’ve always wanted to develop!

This is a time of big change for everyone, but it’s a positive and exciting one. With a little bit of planning and some solid strategies, it’s going to be a good first year of school!