Help your child get ready for school

There are ways to quell your child’s fears and make sure they are well-prepared, whether the child is an eager first grader or a more seasoned scholar.

Weeks before

Take a tour before your child starts at their new school, preferably when school is still in session. Look at the classroom they will likely be in, the bathrooms, playground and activity rooms for music, art and physical education.

When you visit, focus on an activity, game, or toy that your child does not have at home, such as paints or a sandbox and make it something for them to look forward to on their first day.

Get your child to open up about their expectations for school. Ask them if they feel excited, anxious or a little bit of both. Talk with them about specific worries they have for the upcoming year.

To keep them in the social loop before school starts, ask for a class list with telephone numbers over the summer. Arrange play dates with other children who will be in your child’s class.

Invite another child who is in the same class to play with your child so they will have at least one friend on their first day.

Explain the upcoming school routine in detail. Go over your child’s new schedule, including when they need to wake up, eat breakfast and be ready to leave the house. Have a couple practice runs beforehand.

Make the transition from holiday to school bedtimes by getting your kids to bed fifteen minutes earlier each night about two weeks before school, with no more staying up until 10pm or 11pm at night.

With your child’s help, brainstorm and come up with a list of their favourite lunches and snacks to pack for school in order to make both grocery shopping and packing their lunch easier.

Make sure your child feels comfortable with how they will be getting to school. Drive the route with them, walk with them to school the first week, or find an older child to walk with them. Review safety precautions regarding traffic and strangers.

The day before

Bake your child a batch of their favourite cookies as something to look forward to after the stress of the first day.

Pack something familiar in your child’s backpack to make them feel more comfortable, along with something new to make them feel special.

Make a big family sit-down dinner the night before or after the first day. Talk through some of the highlights of their holiday and one goal for the coming school year.

Pack all the items you and your child need for work, school or day care and load the car. If that is not feasible, place coats, bags and lunch boxes by the door.

Designate a shelf, basket, or area for each family member to place what needs to go out the door in the morning.

Pack lunches and refrigerate sandwiches sometimes this is easiest to do while making dinner. Put your car keys with the sandwiches if it helps your remember to add the sandwiches to lunchboxes in the morning, or put a note on the lunchbox to remind you.

Check the weather report to plan clothing and outerwear for the next day

Decide what to serve for breakfast to avoid early morning debates. Some hot items, like pancakes, French toast and bacon can be made ahead of time and reheated.

Keep child-size cups of milk and juice in the fridge so your child can help themselves.

First Day of School

Start the school year off right by making the first day something to celebrate. Have a big breakfast, decorate the kitchen, serve a favorite meal and hand out new lunchboxes or school supplies.

Take pictures, and pick one spot to do this each year, such as the front steps.

The morning arrival time at school is critical, and most kids like a few leisurely moments to get settled in. If you drive your child or if they walk to school, plan to get there at least 10 minutes before school starts.

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