Pencils, backpacks, and school buses. New friends, new teachers and a brand new schedule every morning. Starting school brings a lot of change for both you and your daughter. But there are a few simple things you can do to help her walk through doors on her first day not only ready to learn, but with a big smile and a sense of confidence.
Here are 5 ways to prepare her for a happy, safe (and fun) start to her first ever school year:
- A little independence goes a long way. This is especially important if your daughter has never been away from home all day. Start small. Work on your child’s ability to do basic physical things for themselves before school starts. Can she put on and take off shoes? Check. Zip up her coat? Check. Does she know how to navigate the bathroom independently at potty time? Check. And remember, tights are tough. So is anything with lots of complicated zips, buttons and snaps. Kindergarten is a place to play, run, climb and learn, so the fancy dress you bought last week might be best saved for your next special occasion rather than her first day of school.
- Get to know the school. Lots of schools set aside a day to let incoming kindergartners and parents get familiar with the classroom, so take advantage of the opportunity or ask to schedule a special visit. Get beyond the classroom—show your child the hallways, the bathroom and other important places like the library too. And don’t forget the fun—make sure you leave some playground time.
- Take turns telling a story with your girl. Even if she’s the social butterfly in your neighborhood or within the family, she still may need a little boost to help her communicate with others in a new setting. Tell a piece of the story as your child listens and ask her to pick up where you left off. It’s not only fun, but also really develops the listening and communication skills that will give her a smooth transition into kindergarten. Reading bedtime stories is helpful too. Try stories and books about kindergarten, as the first day gets closer. Want to see more activities you can do to help your daughter get ready for school? Here’s a list of suggestions.
- Do a practice run. A few days before school starts, set the alarm for the new wake up time, visit the bus stop, or walk the route to school. If you have neighbors who will be attending the same school, it might be a great time to find your bus buddy—or a friendly face to join her on the first ever walk to school.
- Kindness counts. Friendships are important, but if this will be the first time you don’t choose her friends, just remember one thing: That’s ok. To reinforce the skills that will help her make new friends, let her know when you see those positive behaviors in action. Like the way she shared with a younger sibling or neighborhood playmate? Tell her. Did she notice someone was sad and try to cheer her up? Let her know what a nice thing she did. And when kids aren’t kind: Make sure she’s just as comfortable as her brother is speaking up for herself and being her own advocate.