It’s time to start thinking about getting your family ready to go back to school. As time allows in the next weeks before school, there are things we can do to make the transition easier for adults and children.
Below are some strategies from Nebraska’s Department of Education in response to families commonly asked questions about preparing for, and entering kindergarten.
If you have a young child entering kindergarten, even if they have attended preschool or gone to childcare, there will be separation anxiety for both the parent and the child. This anxiety is a normal growth pattern for children. It is part of their development. Always let your child know you are leaving. Say goodbye even though it may be difficult for both of you.
How do I help my Kindergarten aged child transition to school?
Give plenty of notice that the change will be occurring. You can use phrases like, “In 5 days you will be starting Kindergarten. You will be going to a new classroom but, the teacher will be there to support you. I will be there to support you too!”
Be positive, speak about the transition using an excited and confident voice. If you do this, so will your child.
Acknowledge any feelings your child might have about the transition, “You said you feel nervous about the first day, that’s okay. I get nervous sometimes when I try new things too. When I feel nervous, I take a deep breath to help me calm down.”
Get to know your child’s teacher, ask questions about homework expectations, start and release times, and other classroom-specific rules or behavior expectations.
On the first day if possible arrive early, give your child plenty of time to settle in and give yourself time to transition too.
Review your child(ren)’s medical files and make sure all their vaccinations are up-to-date and all school physicals are complete, or appointments have been made. If children are involved in sports, do they have their physicals?
Check what school supplies will be needed and watch for sales or, if necessary, learn what organizations are willing to help provide these items. Generic pencils, folders, and backpacks work just as well as the latest fad ones. These things are also good to put on birthday and gift lists for grandparents, etc.
Plan the transportation that is used and practice safety tips for children walking and/or riding the school bus. If there are older children and they will be walking to school, practice the path. If your family will be carpooling, check with the neighbors or friends to work out a schedule. For a list of school bus safety and tips for keeping your kids safe in and around the school bus, click here.
Morning and Night Routines
Start early planning and practicing the new fall bedtime and wake-up schedule. Work on methods that were not used during the summer. These might be breakfast, bath time, homework and bedtime routines. Perhaps set aside some time each evening to play a quiet game or read starting 2 weeks before the start date. Stress the importance of being awake and alert for the school day by getting enough rest. In addition to these recommendations, the American Academy of Pediatrics (2016) suggests that “all screens be turned off 30 minutes before bedtime and that TV, computers and other screens not be allowed in children’s bedrooms.”
Check with the school or make sure you have read and kept up-to-date on correspondence, so your children have everything they need for the new school year. Ensure that you have the start and dismissal time of school.
And remember to talk with your children about the new school year, so they’re prepared for the changes that will take place and are ready for a productive school year.