As the summer winds down and the first day of school draws near it is time to prepare our little ones for school. Whether their starting pre-school, kindergarten or first grade or any grade you need to prepare them for the first day of school. In the past what I have done for my daughter is make a paper chain for the “count down” of the first day of school. This year was a bit more hectic with no days home before her first day, it was ok though because she is in first grade and is understanding the concept of time minutes, hours, days and weeks more and more everyday (which is good and bad – a topic for another day).
I was so tired from our road trips and summer break that when my alarm went off this morning, I couldn’t figure out why, but then quickly remembered it was her first day of school. Here we go again! As I walked down my hallway to make my much needed cup of coffee, I started to get tears in my eyes…wasn’t expecting this, but none the less, I embraced the moment and realized that my little buddy was going off to school again for the next nine months. What am I going to do without her all day? Did I do everything I wanted to do with her this summer? Did we play enough, do enough crafts, Do enough summer learning to keep her brain fresh all summer? Was I present with her all summer? Is she prepared to go? Is she excited? Scared?.......I quickly pushed the negative thoughts out of my head and stopped myself from putting too much pressure on myself to be the “perfect mom” and realized I did all those things.
I made my coffee, let my way too many dogs out and got into the routine again, making lunch breakfast, etc. I woke my daughter to find her excited for school. She couldn’t wait to put her uniform on, have breakfast and we even had enough time for a picture of her new toothless smile, (she lost her second front tooth last night). We talked over breakfast, finished packing her lunch, got dressed and brushed her teeth.
As we approached school we talked about her first day, the excitement, meeting new friends, how cute she looked in her new uniform, new lunch box, back pack and were amazed at how many parents and kids were going to school (last year her school was very small, so a much different experience for her).
Our goal is to not be late for the entire year so we made it to class with plenty of time to get settled and acclimated. We greeted her teacher, found her cubby, unpacked her lunch, water bottle and back pack. Yes she was ready! As the minutes clicked towards 8 o’clock. It was time to leave. I quickly took some last minute pictures gave her a kiss and hug goodbye and wished her luck with a few other positive remarks. Yes, she was ready!!
I walked out the class and stood by her window, greeted a few parents and then the tears came, not from my daughter but from me. Not a lot, just a few to remind me how much I love my daughter, how wonderful this new experience would be for her, how she was ready and how much I would miss her everyday. I watched and observed some other parents and kids, some frantically getting their children in class, other kids relaxed and sitting at their desks ready to go and other children crying. I wondered why the tears?
The difference between tears and no tearson the first day of school could be that these parents are not preparing their child for the first day of school. It is important to get them excited for the new experience. Ask them questions about what they are excited about (for my daughter it was the new playground). Even if it is for the playground, that is something to be excited about, acknowledge their excitement and expound on their excitement.
As we ate dinner last night I suggested many things for her to be excited about, new teachers, making new friends, her new uniform, new books to read and new things to learn. We discussed everything we saw on the walls in her class, talked about the weather charts, birthday charts and the maps. We recited the pledge of allegiance to refresh her memory from kindergarten (she even got a kick out of it when I recited it with her and put my hand on my chest in a very dramatic way). We went over the school rules and what will be expected of her in behavior, attitude, morale, school work and all the exciting things she would do and learn this year.
As we shopped for food for her lunches this week, we discussed the importance of nutritional snacks and trying new foods. We went to one of our favorite stores Trader Joes. They have shopping carts for the kids and she put all her food in her cart. At first she didn’t even want to go with me. By making her a part of the decision process she loved it! She enjoyed putting her own food in her cart and remarked several time on how organized her cart was and that food I picked out might have too much sugar in it and would it be ok to bring to school. Her teacher has a low sugar policy on snacks which my daughter and I discussed earlier that day.
We read a book on the first day of school before she went to bed last night. I didn’t have any on starting first grade, so we read one from last year changing the words from kindergarten to first grade and even changed the characters pet name of the cat to my daughters dogs name. She thought this was hysterical and we had a great time reading together.
It’s the little things that can make a difference between tears or no tears on the first day of school. My husband always tells me my daughter is too dependent on me….I think not! She was prepared and ready for the day and embraced the day with open arms, an open mind and an open heart. For me, no more tears and back to mommy time and doing what I have been waiting to do since May. Good luck preparing your child for the first day of school! The little things that you do and taking the time to interact, ask questions and get them involved can and will make all the difference. All my best, Dyan
What I learned: Positive reinforcement brings positive experiences. Getting my daughter involved with decisions for school and giving her choices makes her more confident, mature and independent. Communication is the key to success and new experiences.
What she learned: Preparing for school can be fun, learning about better food choices can make shopping for good food and snacks more enjoyable, letting her make some better nutritional choices can bring new things to try and starting a new experience is exciting.