Starting school—or starting at a NEW school—is challenging for any kid (and parent!). Since many families move to the suburbs during the summer, the first day of school is often filled with added pressures and anxiety. Not only is your child in a new town, a new neighborhood and away from familiar NYC, but she’s now in a big new school surrounded by new (soon-to-be!) friends, teachers and other families. But with a little prep work over these next few weeks you’ll ease the transition into her new school and ensure the year starts off right! This week: helping kindergarteners start at their new “big” school.
Preschool is behind you and, now, “big kid school” is in your child’s immediate future. While it may seem like an easy transition, going from preschool to kindergarten can be challenging for even A+ preschoolers. Why? The combination of a longer day—many suburban kindergartens are full day—and other changes like a bustling cafeteria, school bus pick ups and exposure to older children can be difficult for five- and six-year-olds. Compound that with the fact that with your move and the first day of kindergarten can have some additional hurdles—chances are, your child attended the same preschool for two or even three years and is now “starting over” with unfamiliar faces.
But, at the same time, post-preschool is a very common time for families to relocate to the ‘burbs and, with a little planning, your child will be ready for that all-important first day. Here’s how to start prepping today:
Like anything else, your child picks up on your subconscious cues—in other words if you’re nervous she’ll be nervous. Be enthusiastic and overtly excited about the first day of kindergarten. Talk about what YOU loved about being in kindergarten and take turns guessing some of her soon-to-be-favorite things about being at “big kid” school. Art class, a bigger playground, lots of recess time or, even, riding the school bus are common list toppers!
Test Out Your New Routine
Moving to the suburbs often means significant schedule changes. Mom and Dad may need to leave for work earlier, yours could be the first bus stop or, maybe, your child will have a pre-class routine like AM daycare. Test-drive your new morning a few times before the first day of school. Practice packing lunch together, laying out clothes, packing his backpack and getting out the door. Tell him he’s like a firefighter—totally prepped for action so when the real thing happens, he won’t miss a beat!
Visit Her New School
Spend an hour visiting her new school. By this point in the summer teachers are starting to come back and set up their classrooms and there are plenty of things to see in the hallways, gyms and cafeteria. Walk around the halls and answer any questions your almost-kindergartener may have, then pop in to her classroom and see if you can spend a few minutes talking to her new teacher. This will almost always soothe anxiety and get a new student excited about day one. Then, after, spend time talking through any questions, concerns, fears and, of course, build excitement for the first day.
The summer is almost over but, with that, comes something even MORE exciting: the first day of school! Help your kindergartener prep now so his transition to your new suburban school will be as seamless as possible. Happy back-to-school!