Kindergarten: Help For First-Day Jitters

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schoolWashoe County Kindergarten Coordinator Kacey Edgington shares preparation tips for your child’s first day of school.

With the first day of your child’s first school year just a week away, undoubtedly you’re beginning to prepare — new clothes and a backpack, pencils and a lunchbox (and don’t forget the camera). As exciting as this new milestone is for you both, it may be worrisome wondering how your child is going to react: Will there be tears and pouting, or joy and elation on the first day of kindergarten? Will your child be ready to start school?

A successful first day at school, and the kindergarten school year, comes down to preparation. Kacey Edgington, kindergarten coordinator with the Washoe County School District, shares tips for a smoother transition into elementary school.

Talk About It 

As the first day approaches, start talking about your child’s new school and highlight a couple of the things your child will experience there, such as learning his/her principal’s and teacher’s name. Review what activities your child might do during the day — paint, put together puzzles or learn about the world around them. 

It’s good to ask your child what they think kindergarten will be like. Be prepared to answer questions such as: What will the start of the day be like? What will the end of the day be like? Where will I eat lunch? Where will I play?

To also ease some jitters, you can also do a couple of practice rounds on what your new routine will be like. Walk the route to school, where the bus will pick up, or drive to the school. Walk around the property and the playground. Check with your school about taking a tour – walk the hallways, find the bathrooms, see the cafeteria and show your child where the office is.

Some teachers offer a special get together for students and their families either prior to school starting or within the first few months of class. This allows children to get to know each other and their teacher with their parents present.

Anxiety is A-OK

If you find that after talking with your child and exploring the new school, your child is still hesitant about starting kindergarten, tell them it’s OK to feel that way. Convey that you (or an older sibling or close family friend) felt the same way.

Reassure them that they will get used to it very soon. Again, highlight the positive and fun things they will be doing and learning at school.

Up-to-Date Medical Information

It’s important that the school is aware of any medical needs your child may have. You can complete student medical considerations on the student online kindergarten registration form. 

There’s a process in place where the school nurse reviews the information.  During this process the nurse will contact parents if there are any questions or parents can contact the school nurse if they want to discuss their child’s particular health needs.

Night Before and the First Day: Rest and a Full Belly

Kindergarten is usually more tiring for children than preschool. Your child will be better able to meet the demands, however, with some solid rest and a good breakfast.

Remember: Five-year-old children generally need 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night and most do not nap. Make sure you are putting your child to bed between 7 and 9 p.m. and getting up around 6 to 8 a.m. (depending on your child’s school start time).

On the first day of school, leave your house a little early so you can have time for photos of your child at the school, with new classmates and their new teacher. Keep in mind that it can be upsetting for your child to see you cry so try to hold back the tears until your child is out of sight.

Show your excitement about your child’s new milestone and share your happiness or a story about your first day with your child so they are eager to start their day.

“It seems easier to say goodbye to children before the teacher brings the students inside the classroom to start the first day of school,” Edgington says. “There are fewer tears from the student.” 

The Rest of the Year: Help your child develop a sense of responsibility

As your child continues on throughout the year and settles into a school routine, you will want to continue your child’s sense of responsibility for getting up and ready for school on time. Your child will also need to become responsible for completed homework, classroom jobs and bringing notes home from school.

Remember that showing interest in your child’s kindergarten experiences conveys the message that school is valuable. Ask who your child played with in the class, what books were read and what activities your child took part in.

It’s also important to get involved in your child’s schooling and feedback. Read the notes that come home from the teacher and school. Attend parent-teacher meetings. Sign-up to volunteer in your class or at the school. Attend as many school events as your schedule will allow.

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