Do you have a child who is going to kindergarten for the first time this year. Here are some tips to help make the transition a little easier for both your child and family. My second daughter will be going to kindergarten this year so I have a bit of an idea of what to expect. Despite knowing what to expect, I know one thing is for sure I am going to miss her being at home with me during the day.

Most of these tips apply to children going to school for the first time. For each family this will be different and might be prekindergarten or preschool. However, many of these tips could apply to an older child starting at a new school this year.

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Visit school: Most schools have a kindergarten orientation where children can get a taste of what the school is like and have a tour, the teachers and, maybe take a ride on a bus. My recommendation is attend as many of the events as possible before the school year starts to help get your child used to the school environment. If possible have your child meet their teacher ahead of time.

Shopping: Take your child with when you shopping for back to school items and let them take some ownership over the process. Let your child have a choice in their lunch box, or pencil case.

Realistic Expectations: Some kids might be really excited to start school for the first time. However, it has been my experience that most kids have some mixed feelings about the experience. Do not fake excitement about your child going to school for the first time particularly if there could be some mixed feelings for them. However don’t feed them unnecessary fear either.

Listen: Be available of a child needs to talk about his or her feelings of going to school for the first time. Validate feelings as real and talk them through their feelings. However, don’t go any deeper than needed as this might add unneeded fear to the situation. For example if the child has not expressed that he or she is nervous about going to school, it may not be necessary to discuss it.

Normalize the “Back to School” Experience: Treat the “back to school “experience as normal as possible. This is more possible if the child has an older sibling already in school and can share stories and experiences with their younger sibling. Whether he or she has an older sibling or not try to make your child feel that they are not alone in their experience and that there are other kids who will be experiencing the same things as them as they go to school for the first time.

Trial Run: Over the summer had my girls go to soccer camp and gave my kids the opportunity for a week to have a little time away from me. It was a growing experience for my second daughter who never has gone to preschool. She has had babysitters come to our house, but over this last year she has had me home with her full time.

Easing Mom Anxiety: Moms get back to school jitters too. After all the lunches and school supplies are packed make sure you take lots of pictures. The closer there first day of school comes I keep thinking about how I am going to miss my kiddo, but I felt the same for my now almost second grader when she went to kindergarten. I am going to try to wait until she gets on the bus before I cry. I have a feeling her siblings are going to miss her a lot too. During the first few days getting yourself back into a routine at home will help with the transition.

Easing Sibling Anxiety: When my now almost second grader went to kindergarten for the first time her three year old little sister (now going to kindergarten this year) tried to follow her onto the bus. She had a very difficult time being separated from her because they are so close in age. If your other kids experience this try to plan something fun (such as going to the park,or library) for them to do during the first few days of school that way it will help them to transition a little easier. Then try to get them into a normal routine as soon as possible. In addition, having a time for the younger children to experience school by having a story time and craft time will help younger children feel more included in the back to school experience. Here are some tips for reading to toddlers, and a cute craft idea.

A new school experience is a milestone for every child, and mom. While change can be good, it is never easy. Try to make the experience memorable and positive for everyone, and if the tears come (either mom or kid tears) deal with it if necessary (don’t forget the tissues). Just remember to soak up the experience, and take lots of pictures. You will be glad you did.