#MakeItCountPBC:Tips to Make the First Day of Kindergarten Joyful, Not Tearful

Countdown to school day sixThe first day of school is an exciting one for parents and students alike, but for many, the start of kindergarten is also met with first day of school jitters for both the child and the parents.

Here are some tips to make sending your sweetheart to elementary school a little easier.

When will I find out who their teachers is?

Teachers reported back to school Monday, so they are getting settled and learning which students they can expect. Many will call the phone number you provided at registration to introduce themselves before Monday. However, if you don’t get a call, don’t panic. The school will have a list of class rosters posted when you attend the Meet the Teacher day and on the first day of school.

Will I get to meet the teacher before the first day?
Almost all elementary schools have a Meet the Teacher Day. Parents and students will have an opportunity to take in their school supplies, practice walking to class, meet their teachers and classmates and tour the campus during this time. Call your school directly for the date and time.

Will my child be ready to handle the cafeteria?

When visiting the school before school starts, it’s a good idea to take your child to the cafeteria. Let them practice going through the lunch line. The cafeteria workers are eager to meet your child and will make them feel right at home. Be sure to add money to your child’s lunch account online and then they will be given a code to enter at checkout and don’t have to be responsible for cash. Don’t worry if your child forgets their code. Most of the time they will have it written on their name badge or the cafeteria workers can look it up. They won’t go hungry.

Also, don’t forget breakfast is free for everyone regardless of economic need. This is a great way for your child to make new friends while also getting powered up for school.

What do I do about putting him or her on the bus?

Bus routes will be posted online or available by phone August 9. Practice walking your child to and from the bus stop before the start of school. It is highly recommended that you allow your child to ride the bus the first week of school while there is plenty of school staff available to help them find their classrooms and buses.Introduce them to the bus driver. This will be the first face they see during the school day and the last one they see and the end of the day.  Make sure your child understands how to find the bus in the afternoon and what stop they will be looking for to head home.

Can I walk my child to class?

This policy varies by school. Many schools will allow you to walk your child to class for the first day or even the first week, but then are closed campuses after that time, meaning that you drop your child off at the door or in the car line and they find the classroom on their own. Some schools have open campuses which allow you to walk your child to class each day. Inquire with your school as to their policy so that you can plan ahead.

What if I have questions for the teacher?
Remember, drop off or pick up is not the time to stop the teacher for a full conversation on your child’s future goals or concerns you may have about the class. The teachers are trying to prepare their students for the start of the day or may be assigned to help children find their way home. Instead, ask your teacher what is the best way to communicate with them. Are they better by email or by phone? Keep the lines of communication open. Don’t be afraid to ask for a parents conference for longer conversations. They are there to help you, but be considerate of their classroom time and responsibilities as well.

Does attendance really matter? It’s only kindergarten.

Yes! Attendance matters — every day, all day. Students should be in school on time for the entire day unless they are ill or there is a  family emergency. According to a study from Attendancematters.org, “Students who arrived at school academically ready to learn — but then missed 10 percent of their kindergarten and first-grade years — scored, on average, 60 points below similar students with good attendance on third-grade reading tests. In math, the gap was nearly 100 points.”

Schedule after-school activities and doctors appointments after the last bell rings so that you do not have to sign your child out of class early.

How do I prepare them for the first day?

Show your child just how excited you are for them to experience this new stage in their life. Tell them about the new friends they will make, how much their teachers and school staff will be there to support and nurture them and about all of the great things they will learn.

 

It’s normal to feel emotional and nervous as a parent, but don’t let your child sense that from you or they too will feel anxious. Sure you’ll want to linger and get that second, third or fourth hug goodbye, but it will only cause added stress to the class and your child.

Keep your goodbye brief, encourage them to have a great day and leave. But be sure to have the tissues handy for when you leave.