It’s that time of year again, back to school time. Parents all around Philadelphia are getting their kids ready for September by finishing up summer homework, buying school supplies, and making sure to stock up on school snacks. For kindergarten aged kids, this may be the first time they are away from home all day in a classroom setting. It may be even the first time they are riding on a bus without their parent. This milestone in life is exciting and can be anxiety provoking for both child and parent. How can you prepare your kindergarten student, and yourself, for this big step in their educational career?
If you haven’t already, visit your child’s new school together for a tour or walk around the campus. Many times schools have specific times when this is permissible, so be sure to call ahead or check the school’s website to see when the school is open to visitors. Seeing where they will be going every day can quell some nerves and increase the excitement for this new beginning. If the teacher is hosting a visitation or back to school event, be sure to attend to be informed of what is expected of your child and your role as a parent. If a tour of the school is not available, simply just visiting the outside of the school building and the playground can be helpful.
Discuss with your new student what a day at school is like. Talk about classroom behavior, such as asking the teacher questions, sitting still in their seat, paying attention to the teacher, and how to say hi to a new friend. Will they be eating lunch at school? If so, talk about the process of buying lunch, if applicable, or what kinds of foods they want to find in their lunch box. Tell your child stories of when you were a new student and how much you enjoyed school.
If your child will be taking the bus to school, find out if a trial ride is available. This may be the first time your child will be on a bus without a parent or caregiver. Explain the process of the bus pick up and drop off and let your child know who will be waiting for them at the end of the day when they get off the bus. If your child will walk to school, practice the walk a few times with them so you both know the route to school. Carpooling to school is another option many children use for getting to school. Discuss the process of the carpool and the expected behavior for riding in other parent’s vehicles.
There are many books available about going to school. Check out a few at your local library. Reading about others going to school may help your child understand what school is like and how to be a good student. While there are some great books that are specific to going to Kindergarten, there are many other books that are about school in general that are fun to read. Here is a list of some books to look for in your library or book store:
- Kindergarten Here I Come! By D. J. Steinberg
- The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing
- Pete the Cat; Rocking in My School Shoes by Eric Litwin
- Froggy Goes To School by Jonathan London
- The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
- Curious George’s First Day of School by Margret & H. A. Rey
Here’s to a successful school year for everyone!