Oh my god, my baby is starting preschool in a few weeks. How did this happen? I swear, it feels like I only just came back to work after maternity leave a few months ago, but while filling in my One Line A Day journal last night, I realized it was exactly three years ago this week. I’m not going to lie, that was a hard transition, so this time around I’m trying to prepare us both. After consulting many moms who are first-day veterans, I’ve compiled their Top 10 Tips to Ease Back-to-School Jitters. Here we go!
My son, Arlo, and his best friend Izzy playing “school” at our house with his Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site Lunchbox at the ready.
Before School Starts
1. Visit the school – If your child is starting at a new school, plan to visit and meet the teachers before the school year starts. Everyone will be much more comfortable if they know what to expect—and look forward to. (Hello, playground!)
2. Plan a playdate – Making friends and learning social skills can be one of the hardest challenges for young children just starting school. Give kids a head start by meeting up with other families before the school year begins so that they already have a buddy on the first day. Most schools will share the class list ahead of time so that you can plan a playdate.
3. Read books together – Children’s books can be a great help for kids transitioning to school. A few weeks before classes begin, visit the library and ask your children’s librarian for suggestions. One of our favorites is Sea Monster’s First Day, by Kate Messner. And still as relevant and comforting as ever, the longtime classic from back in MY day, The Berenstein Bears Go to School.
4. Practice the morning routine – If bedtimes have slipped over the summer, start shifting things back to a school routine at least a week before the first day. Every kid is different, but most still need 10 hours of sleep, so plan accordingly. Practice waking up with an alarm clock and getting out the door on time until you’ve got your system down pat.
5. Buy School Supplies – I can still remember how excited I would get when it was time to go back-to-school shopping. Picking out a new lunchbox, stocking up on #2 pencils, and buying one special outfit for the first day of school was always one of my favorite traditions. I still get a little giddy at the sight of a fresh, new notebook. Just make sure you shop for school supplies early so that it isn’t a stressful, rushed chore.
The First Week
6. Clear your calendar – Reschedule important meetings, avoid business travel, and keep your calendar as flexible as possible the first week of school. Kids need extra emotional support when starting school at any age, so try to devote your full attention to them.
7. Plan lunches ahead – Get in the habit of creating a meal schedule so that you’re not scrambling for ideas at 7am. Pack lunches the night before, and include a little handwritten note or sticker surprise for your child. Read this blog post for lunchbox-packing tips and sample menus and recipes!
8. Volunteer in the classroom – If your child’s school encourages parent participation and your work schedule permits, sign up to volunteer in the classroom a few times a year. It’s a great way to develop a relationship with your child’s teacher and experience the classroom routine firsthand. It also shows your child that you are personally invested in their education.
9. Take a photo – The first day of school is a special occasion and a proud moment, so celebrate it! Take a photo of your child all decked out and ready to go, and if you’re feeling crafty, make a sign to document each year and collect them in a School Years Journal! Here are some cute free printable chalkboard signs you can download from Yellow Bliss Road.
10. Stay calm and positive – Starting school is a big transition for kids—and parents, too! It’s hard to send your little one off to preschool, or to suddenly realize you’re old enough to be the mom or dad of a high school freshman. But it’s your job to be the emotional rock for your kids, so put a smile on your face, offer them whatever encouragement they need, and pat yourself on the back for being a great parent. You can always cry in the car later. Lord knows I’m gonna!
11. Bonus tip just for parents! Once you’ve pulled yourself together (I recommend a stash of cucumber face wipes in the glovebox to dab beneath your eyes), treat yourself to an extra-large latte with sprinkles or whip or whatever syrup floats your boat. You’ve earned it!
For a limited time, save 20% on all Personalized School Supplies from MyChronicleBooks! Help your kiddos get super excited for their first day with personalized notebooks, folders, journals, lunch boxes and stickers. Enter code: MYCB-BTS20 at checkout. Happy back-to-school shopping!
Guinevere de la Mare
Senior Community Manager