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Tips for a Fabulous First Day of Kindergarten

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What are the signs of kindergarten readiness? Is your child’s backpack fully stocked with school supplies? Does she know her ABCs?? What is the best way to prepare your child for a great first day? And more importantly, how are YOU going to prepare?

Many kids and parents are already used to a school routine by the time kindergarten starts. But there’s something different about sending your little love off to the first day of kindergarten. My child is starting kindergarten in just a few weeks, and I’m realizing that kindergarten readiness applies to both parent and child!

Kindergarten Readiness for Your Child

• Set the routine in advance. Walk to the bus stop, practice driving or walking to the school in advance to figure out how much time you will need (remember, kindergarteners like to dawdle!).

• Get acquainted with the campus and playground. If your child can explore the school playground and campus before the first day, they’ll feel more comfortable about being there alone after that morning bell rings.

• Set up playdates with future classmates. If you don’t know the parents of your child’s classmates, strike up a conversation with some on that first day and exchange email addresses or phone numbers. Having a playdate the first week of school can bolster your child’s confidence.

• Practice unpacking backpacks and lunchboxes. Review where important items go in the backpack, and make sure your child knows how to do things like open their yogurt. Be sure they have the right utensils for what they will be eating.

• Talk about potty breaks. Explain that their kindergarten teacher will have rules about potty breaks. The teacher may even request that all students keep a change of clothes in the room in case accidents happen. Reassure your child that it’s OK if they have an accident – it happens to many kids.

• Run through the morning routine before the first day. Practice having your child get up and get ready for school a few days in advance – a fun alarm clock can make adjusting to a new routine and wakeup time much easier.

• Adjust summer bedtimes back. If your child has stayed up late during the summer months, start working on slowly adjusting bedtimes earlier a week or two before school starts. The excitement of kindergarten can be tiring, and little ones need their sleep!

• Review the afterschool pickup routine. Kids are often fearful that their parents might forget to pick them up or that they’ll be in the wrong place. Take your child to the school and physically walk them through what the pickup process will be like and what they should do if you can’t find each other. Repeat, repeat, repeat!

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Kindergarten Readiness for Mom and Dad

While children will benefit from a little preparedness, Moms and dads can benefit from a little preparation too. Here are a few things to consider.

• Learn the school schedule. What time does school get out on half-days? What is the early dismissal plan? What will you do if you get a call from the school nurse? What is your back-up plan? What is the back-up to the back-up plan? Set alarms for those half-days – even the most organized of parents has forgotten about early dismissal!

• Get organized. Know where you are going to put or how you will handle important notices. Since many schools are now “paperless,” figure out a system or determine which notices you need to print. Make last minute dentist doctor, flu shot appointments now so your child doesn’t need to miss school during those critical first weeks.

• Be prepared to shed some tears. Chances are that you’ll shed more than your child. Some schools even have “boo hoo breakfasts” on the first day so new kindergarten parents can support one another. It’s a big day – and it’s ok to be a little emotional.

Like our kindergarteners, I’m certain we will learn new things each day during the school year. What are your tips?

We’re also sharing the stories of other parents of kindergartens who are handling this important milestone in their own special ways:

The First Day of Kindergarten

Preparing for Kindergarten by Trusting Yourself

Kindergarten Readiness With A Twist

Meghan DuBois has been honored to serve in roles within Johnson & Johnson for over 15 years most recently as Customer Support Services Export Manager for the U.S. region. She is active in the Women’s Leadership Initiative and Credo-based decision making defines her leadership style. Meghan and her husband are the proud parents of three wonderful children who inspire them every day.

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