I’m (almost) certain that my kid isn’t the only one daily groaning about having to start Kindergarten this fall. He’s only attending a two-day-a-week tutorial program for homeschoolers, but he’s still giving me the stink-eye any time we approach the subject. He’s nervous—which is perfectly natural—but it’s making me feel a bit nervous, too. I’m not sure what to expect during the first few weeks, and especially on his first day! I did a little bit of research, added my own ridiculous two cents, and put together these ten TOTALLY useful tips for getting your kid (and yourself) ready for Kindergarten. (Or, as my five-year-old seems to think of it, that horrifying nightmare looming in the near future involving parental abandonment, giant, menacing crayons, and loads of other slimy kids singing songs in a scary circle.)
- Tour the school with your child before the first day. Show him around his classroom, but try not to show him the exits. This way, he won’t know exactly which way to go when he decides to run after you and chase you down in the parking lot.
- If possible during the tour, introduce her to her teacher. She needs to know who will take care of her after you suddenly throw her into the classroom and run before she gets her bearings.
- Take him to the store to buy his school supplies. He’ll get excited picking out his own lunchbox, backpack, safety scissors, and crayons, and you can
manipulatetell him how much fun they’ll be to use at school. (Then he’ll get mad that you won’t buy him a new toy airplane, and he’ll break all the crayons on the way home…but that’s an argument for another day.)
- Let him pack his own lunch. Sure, he’ll pack himself nothing but chocolate chips and jelly beans. Sure, the resulting sugar rush at school will have him doing the Hokey Pokey all through nap time, and then he’ll crash just as the class circles up to do the Hokey Pokey. Sure, you’ll get a note home on the very first day, but at least he’ll have had something to look forward to all morning!
- Every time you drive by the school, point it out to her and find something positive to say about it. She’ll get so annoyed you’ll start to see her roll her eyes all dramatically in the rearview mirror a few blocks before you even get there. She’ll be dying to go to school just to get you to stop happily reminding her where the building is.
- Teach her how to wipe her butt. She may not understand at first why her teacher isn’t able to come running like you do when she hollers out “I’M DOOO-OOONE!” from the classroom bathroom, but with some coaxing she will eventually get that big kids gotta take care of their own poop. It’s just one of those unfortunate growing up things. Also helpful: teaching her to put her pants back on.
- Gently remind him to use words instead of hands to communicate, as keeping hands to oneself is an important part of playing well with others. This lesson is really most effective if you aren’t holding his arms pinned to his sides at the time, I’ve found.
- Play listening and following direction games, such as Simon Says, to prep her for listening to her teacher. I like to play like this while sipping a hot beverage from the couch: “Simon says put your socks in the laundry room!” “Simon says put the books back on the shelf!” “Simon says bring Mommy a cookie!” You get the idea.
- Buy yourself a hankie. It’s for the environment, really… You’ll be saving a small forest that first week by crying into some washable cloth instead of those disposable tissues. After all, your baby is a Kindergartner now, and mamas, you know you’re gonna spend those first few days crying.
- Treat yourself. Even if you work outside the home, every one of us is going to deserve some mommy time that first week. And really, our Kindergartners are going to be just fine. So grab that book you’ve been meaning to read these last six years, get yourself to your favorite coffee shop (or wine bar), and enjoy some kid-free hours. Be proud. You did it!