First Day of Kindergarten Tips - Avoid a Meltdown

parenting Jul 25, 2019
First Day of Kindergarten Tips

Ah, kindergarten. Who wouldn’t want to go back to those carefree days of finger painting, nap time, and recess? For us, kindergarten is all fun and games. But for your little one, it can be a whole other story.

The first day of kindergarten can be just as stressful and anxiety-inducing as it is fun and exciting — especially for toddlers who are going to school for the first time. If this is your kid’s first time to be away from you or your partner for a long period, then you might want to brace yourself for a kindergarten meltdown.

No need to panic just yet, though! Kindergarten meltdowns are common and in no way a sign that you’re doing a bad job as a dad. But if you can avoid it — and save yourself the stress and your kid the tears — then why not, right?

Today, Dad University is here to arm you with some practical kindergarten tips to help both you and your child face the first day of kindergarten without any crying or tantrums in sight.

Remember To Be Empathetic

One of the most important tips to avoid having a full kindergarten meltdown on your hands is simply to be empathetic to your kid. Put yourself in their shoes and look at the situation through their eyes.

Think about it. They’re small and surrounded by strangers in a new environment. The place is filled with new sounds, sights, faces, rules, and more. Worst of all, their parents — their source of comfort — are leaving them behind.

It’s a recipe for a meltdown. It’s natural for your child to feel anxious, scared, or overwhelmed.

Kindergarten is more than a milestone. It’s a huge transition for your kid, going from the comfort and routine of home to a strange, unknown place. Try to understand their feelings, validate them, and reassure them that it’s okay to feel nervous.

Create a Morning Schedule

A morning schedule is key to ensuring a smooth start for your child’s first day of kindergarten. Start by waking up early enough to allow ample time for everything — including going back to bed or slow and sleepy eating. Make a checklist of tasks such as brushing teeth, getting dressed, eating breakfast, and packing their bag.

A realistic schedule will give you and your kid some extra time in the morning to avoid any last-minute rushing or chaos. A regular morning schedule is key to getting your kid out of the house and into school on time.

More importantly, creating a routine can help ease your child’s anxiety over their first day of kindergarten. If your kid knows what to expect in the morning, it will help them feel more secure and prepared for the day ahead. You can also establish a goodbye ritual for extra luck and assurance!

Just make sure to establish your routine early on. If you only start your morning schedule a few days before the start of school, you’ll still have difficulty on the day itself.

Practice for the First Day

To help your child feel more prepared and less nervous about their first day of kindergarten, consider doing some practice runs beforehand. You can walk them through their morning routine but also take them to their school. Show them where you’ll be dropping them off and where you’ll be waiting for them after school.

Practicing for the big day helps your toddler feel more familiar with their soon-to-be new daily environment and puts them more at ease.

You can also help your kid practice introducing themselves to new people. Give them suggestions on what they can talk about, like their favorite toy or what they did that summer, to make first-day conversations or questions less overwhelming for them.

Hype Up Their Teacher

Your toddler’s teacher is going to be a significant part of their life for the next year. These days, a lot of schools tell you who your kid’s teacher is going to be well in advance. You can even meet with them and see their classroom.

Once you know or have met your child’s teacher, hype them up to your kid! Let your child know how amazing their teacher is and build excitement.

Talk about the fun activities they’ll get to do in class and what their classroom looks like, or share any positive experiences you’ve had with the teacher. Doing so will not only get your child excited about learning but also give them a sense of security knowing that they have someone they can rely on at school.

Even something as simple as, “We’ve met Ms. Taylor and she’s super nice. You’re going to have such a great time with her!” can make a big difference in your child’s perception of their teacher — and help prevent a kindergarten meltdown.

Prepare Everything the Night Before

Starting the day with a chaotic rush is never good. No one wants unnecessary stress so early in the morning — especially when you have a toddler.

The solution is easy and simple: get everything ready the night before. Prepare whatever it is your child might need or want to bring for their first day of kindergarten in advance. Lay out their outfit for the day, get their shoes ready, ask them about what food they want, and prepare their lunch bag.

Additionally, talk to them about what they can and can’t bring to school so you can avoid arguments and tantrums over what to wear or what food they want for recess. Getting everything ready the night before also helps get your kid excited for the next day — especially if they know they can wear their favorite shirt or bring their new bag.

Get Plenty of Sleep

A well-rested child is a happy child — and a happy child is less likely to have a kindergarten meltdown.

Make sure your child gets plenty of sleep, not only the night before but also in the days leading up to their first day of kindergarten. Enforce a bedtime routine and strict sleeping time so you can be sure they won’t be tired and cranky.

More importantly, make sure you get sufficient sleep yourself! You don’t want your own crankiness over lack of sleep to bring down your kid’s mood on their big day.

The Bottom Line

Armed with these kindergarten tips, you can properly prepare your kid and make the transition to kindergarten much easier and less meltdown-inducing. Preparation is great but remember: your role as a father goes beyond preparation. More importantly, it’s about understanding and supporting your child throughout everything — including their first day in kindergarten.

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