Many parents have some anxiety about their little one’s first day of school. Will there be tears, screaming, strong latching, pleadings… and THEN, there’s the question of how your kid will be taking it. 😛 All joking aside, it can be a pretty involved separation experience for many mommies (and daddies), whether its your first, a middle, or your last little one.
In a previous position, I worked in administration at my sons’ full-time preschool program for just under three years. In that time, I witnessed many first time drop-offs and realized some standards to follow which make the drop-off experience much easier and more successful for everyone. The idea would be to build a routine around these tips so that your little one feels confident knowing how their drop-off works every day.
1. Give them a clue
When on your way to school in the morning, give your little one a short summary of their day in terms they’ll truly understand, so no need to mention actual time. Include when you’ll be back to pick them up. This could sound like: “Hey buddy, so today after I drop you off at your classroom, you’ll meet your teacher and some new friends, do some activities, take a nap, get some lunch and play in the playground, and then I’ll be back to get you. I’ll be so excited to hear about your day!”
2. Give them confidence at the door and Bless their day
Giving your little one some fun and confidence building affirmation statements before they walk through their classroom door is a nice way to send them off. You can do this by getting down to their eye level and telling them some great stuff about who they are. With a genuinely sweet smile on your face, an encouraging tone, and looking straight into their adorable little eyes, this could sound like: “Oliver, you’re a good son, you’re a good friend, you’re a good listener, you’re funny, you’re smart, I love that you’re my boy! You’re going to have a great day today! GOD BLESS YOU!”
3. Make sure they know the teacher
To help your little one keep a good sense of security, make a formal and smooth transfer to the other approved adult, their teacher, by introducing them. This could sound like: “Honey, this is Mrs. Smith, your new teacher. She’s going to teach you lots of fun new things. You can go with her, and I’ll see you a little while after lunch!” If there are multiple teachers in the morning, and it is at all possible, transfer your little one to the same teacher during that first week.
4. Let them see you leave
When little ones have a hard time with the separation, I noticed many parents would tend to try and sneak away. However, that does leave your the kids with a sense of uncertainty as to what happened to “mommy” (or daddy) which tends to frighten them and can start their experience on a more negative feeling. Instead, and even if tears are involved, give them a happy face bye-bye as you walk out of sight. Rest assured the tears don’t usually last long after you’ve left, and they’ll feel more secure actually seeing you leave in good spirits than if you just ninja-pooffed your way out of the room.
BONUS!!! These tips can work out even better if you do some early prep!
1. Get your mind right
This is your little baby, and they’ve grown up fast! How can they be going to school already? Where did the time go? You were just cradling them with their little baby fat cheeks, arms, and legs all comfortably in your arms, and now it’s getting a little tough to carry them for longer than a few minutes (at least it is for me with my 50 pounder boy!). Now elementary school?!? Realize this is happening, and it’s part of life as a parent. Give yourself permission to sulk in the sadness of your little one growing up for just a little bit, then move on to gratitude for having successfully gotten your baby boy or girl to this great milestone. Really get yourself in a good place before the first day of school because little ones are more perceptive than we may think. They will feed off of our emotion on that day in one way or another, and of course it’s going to be all the better if we can fuel them with good, positive energy during the experience.
2. Plan to be flexible with your time
The experience is best kept short and sweet. However, on that first day of school, and even during that first week, it is best to give yourself some extra time to be to your next destination so you avoid having that extra pressure and can even savor this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
3. Get the hype going early
Over the summer, get them excited by making comments often about school coming up. Mention things they’ll be partaking in at school (learning to read and write, new friends, play time, backpacks, school supplies…). Do a school tour with them sometime before the school year begins, and point out the noisy cafeteria environment. There generally is a Meet the Teacher event that will give them that first introduction to not only their teacher but their new classroom where they’ll spend such a big part of their day. Many schools also do an optional (and sometimes mandatory) interview to assess your child’s personality and skill level. If it’s optional, take them! It’ll be another opportunity to visit their new school and meet school personnel that they may see during their tenure.
4. Get them involved with their school supplies
The school supplies can be a real tool for excitement. There’s just something about getting new crayons, scissors, notebooks, glue, backpacks, lunchboxes, etc. It’s just exciting! Break down the process by having them chose their backpack from a magazine or online, then going to actually pick it out at the store, and then finally filling it up with their school goodies. Let them wear it around the house, and look through it before school starts. Answer their many questions about what they may be using those items for at school.
5. Plan on a special start to their 1st day
Making little one a special breakfast before school starts would be a sweet and memorable way for them to start their day. Hop on Pinterest to find ideas, maybe a pancake face decorated with bananas, strawberries, grapes, and whipped cream, or whatever comes to mind your kid will enjoy and think is fun. Then remember to prep a prop for the all popular first day of school picture, and remember to make this a tradition every grade.
All this will be building up their little minds to look forward to their first day of school!
After all is said and done, the experience will go by in a flash, so enjoy it… and still make sure to bring a little tissue in your pocket just in case to sneak that quick tear wipe!
— Scripture Reflection —
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” ~ John 14:27 NIV
Have any other tips to ease your little ones into Kindergarten? Share what you know, you never know who you may inspire to become intentional!