Ways to prepare for School:
Prepared by Kimberly Foschi, MS Sp.Ed
Play “school”: Playing “school” is a great way to help your child understand how school works and what will go on while she is there. Try to cover small details as well, such as having her hanging up her coat and backpack. You can review basic “academics” colors, shapes, the alphabet and numbers 1-10. Make sure she knows her first and last name.
Be a detective: You may know other children in your child’s class and, if time permits, it is a good idea to have your child meet with them for a play date to get comfortable with some other children in the class.
Do a Site Visit: Bring your child to the school that he will be attending. The teachers will welcome the opportunity to meet your child and show him around. This will give your child a better idea of what school is and where he’ll be going. Make sure you check out the playground and the bathroom while you are there so he knows where these very important places are located. Encourage him to test them out. If your child wears pants with buttons, make sure he knows how to manipulate them so he doesn’t get stressed when he has to go to the bathroom. Find out from the teachers if they have a schedule in place. Will the children take naps? You may want to have your child lie down at the same time. What types of snack do they serve? Pick up the same stuff at the grocery store. When you get home, talk about what you saw. Encourage your child to share his thoughts with you, either by talking or even by drawing a picture.
Back to School sales!: Letting your child pick out her own backpack and school supplies will make her feel like a “big kid.” The more comfortable she feels, the better. Pack the backpack with some small comfort items – a beloved stuffed animals or a favorite family photo. Let her pick out some outfits for school and chose a first day outfit. If they want to start wearing their clothes early, let them; this will help with them feeling more comfortable in the first few days.
Start creating habits: About a week before the big day, start putting your child to bed at his regular, school bedtime. And wake him up at the time you would when he goes to school. Go through the whole routine from bed making to teeth brushing to breakfast. Anything that you want done before you leave. This will help set your child’s internal clock and get him on a school schedule. Pre-pack your child's backpack and pick out the first day of school outfit. If he’ll be bringing lunch or snack, it is a good idea to figure out what will go in the lunchbox either the day before or that morning.
It’s normal for you and your child to have anxiety about starting pre-school and kindergarten. By making sure your child is prepared and ready to go before the big day will help greatly and before you know it the school year will fly by.
Adapted from A Smooth Start, by Gail O’Connor, originally published by Scholastic and from How to Relieve School Anxiety, by Terri Mauro, originally published by About.com Guides.