I know the first day has already come and gone, but you can probably use some help getting your kids ready for the first day of school next year. The first day is tough for kids, especially when it's a major milestone – starting kindergarten, moving into a real grade, transitioning from elementary school to middle school, or from middle to high school. However, it can be just as tough on the parents, especially in those early years. Getting your kids ready for the first day of school is about more than picking out clothes or getting the right supplies, although you'll see those are important too. It's about being emotionally ready and fully prepared – for both of you!
1. Introduce Your Kids to School
Introducing everyone first is essential for getting your kids ready for the first day of school. Many schools will let youngsters, especially, come into a class at the end of the spring semester, meet the teacher, and see what everything is all about. This is also a great time for you to get to know the teachers, the principal, the guidance counselor, and familiarize yourself with your child's new surroundings.
2. Start the Routine a Little Early
I remember being absolutely appalled by the knowledge that I suddenly had to get up early five days a week for nine months – and I had to go to bed early too! My parents fixed this problem by gradually changing my routine throughout the month of August. Going to bed early wasn't much of a problem because even before kindergarten, staying up was a special treat. I loved my sleep as a little kid though; still do. So, every few days, I had to get up a little earlier. That way the transition into school wasn't so jarring – and my parents didn't have such a cranky kid. It's a habit I kept up all the way through high school. Of course, once I hit tenth grade and felt grown, I kind of threw it by the wayside, but still.
3. Make Back-to-School Shopping Fun
My favorite part about the first day of school happened long before: shopping! My mom made it fun by always letting me pick out a few outfits, even before I had any sense of style, and when we got home, I had a fashion show for her, my dad, and my grandfather! Shopping for pens, pencils, and other essentials was just as much fun. Picking out my own trapper keeper and backpack helped me find my personality. Because I was a nerd, I especially loved the back-to-school book treats my parents gave me every year. Little things like this will excite the kids and give you some bonding time.
4. Create a School Year Calendar
At the start of every year, once you know what's going on, start creating a calendar. In addition to eventually helping you and your kids keep up with homework, projects, science fairs, and tests, you'll be able to keep up with plays, band concerts, and time off from school. This keeps you aware of what's going on and lets the children know all the fun things they have to look forward to during the year.
5. Talk to Them
Even if your kids aren't necessarily scared about the first day of school, they probably have some worries. Take plenty of time to talk to them and see how they're feeling. Listen to their worries and concerns, and allay them as best you can. You may even be able to plan some activities or trips to school that can help calm them, reassure them, and get them excited.
6. Instill Some Independence
Nurturing like that is very important, but you also have the opportunity to foster independence in your children. Whether they're heading to first grade or their senior year, there are always ways to make them a little more independent. In their younger years, they may be responsible for getting their homework done, or at least making a list of assignments to share with you. Once they get into high school, of course, independence is an essential preparation for their college years.
7. Make It an Adventure
Even if your kid is 12 and at that eye-rolling stage, most kids secretly love an adventure. Do everything you can to make school an adventurous activity; help your kids get excited to learn. For younger kids, you can make a game out of it, by always asking enthusiastic questions about what they learned that day.
If you follow these tips, getting your kids ready for the first day of school will be easy – and fun. It will seem like an adventure instead of a scary experience for them and a loss for you. What do you or will you do to prepare your little ones for their big educational milestones?