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5 Ways to Make the First Day of School Less Stressful

August 22, 2019

The first day of kindergarten can be nerve-wracking, both for you and your little one. So how can you prepare yourself and your child for the transition? 

There’s good news: As a client of BridgeWay, you’re already ahead of the curve! We build school readiness into all of our programs. Playing with other children at our programs has helped them develop the social skills they will use to make new friends at school. Engaging in activities like building with blocks or using different sized spoons and cups in the sensory table has been building a foundation for the cognitive skills they will apply in class. Using scissors, manipulating play dough, and playing with small objects has developed the muscles, fine motor skills, and spatial awareness they will need to grip and use a pencil. Plus, you have been a part of their learning process for each step along the way!

Here are some more steps you can take to help prepare you and your child for school in the weeks leading up to their first day. 

1. Go see your child’s new school together. 

Children thrive with structure and certainty, and being familiar with their school will make the transition much easier. If you will be walking or driving them to school, take the route that you will take on the first day. Go play on the school playground, walk around, and talk about all the fun things they will do there. Many schools also offer orientation days and other resources, so be sure to contact them before you start to learn about all your options. 

2. Read books about the first day of school. 

Reading is an excellent way to introduce children to new concepts in a way they can relate to. Luckily, there are lots of fantastic books about the first day of school. Some of our favourites include the infectiously positive Pete the Cat: Rocking in my School Shoes by Eric Litwin; Kindergarten, Here I Come! by D.J. Steinberg; Jessica by Kevin Henkes; Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes; and Time for School, Mouse! by Laura Numeroff.

3. Practice your child’s before-school routine. 

It may not seem like a big deal to us, but to children, each step you can make familiar before the first day of school makes a big difference. Practice getting dressed, having school day breakfasts, bringing lunches and backpacks out the door with them for a few days leading up to the big day, and practice getting to school or their bus stop with them once or twice. 

Planning ahead on the first day will also make it easier to get out the door, so lay out your child’s clothes the night before, pack a lunch early, and leave time for a calm breakfast together. 

4. Plan a reward for the end of the day. 

Speak with your child to plan a fun activity after they get back from their first day. Is there a special dinner they would like to eat? A movie or show they love to watch with you? A favourite game you can play together? Having something to look forward to will help to take your child’s mind off all the changes that are happening. 

5. Take photos! 

This is a big step in your child’s life, and you will both want to remember it. Have your phone or camera charged and ready to snap a picture of them setting off with their school gear. 

Remember that everything is going to be okay. It is certainly tough to move onto that new stage of school life on the first day, but going to kindergarten opens up a whole world of possibilities: new learning, new friendships, new experiences. Your involvement at home and outside will help your child get the most out of these opportunities. It will get easier and even fun to go to school!