It’s hard to think of a more bittersweet moment than when you send a kid off to kindergarten for the first time.
On one hand, there are some understandable nerves, entrusting your child to the care of a teacher for eight hours a day and the constant worry about how he or she is adjusting.
On the other hand, not only are there all the things they’ll learn and the friends they’ll meet, but for those who have spent so much time the previous five to six years watching their kids or spending lots of money on day care, think of the free time available now and the money that will be saved!
For those who have reached that kindergarten finish line, a heartfelt congratulations and condolences all at the same time, and here are some tips to make the transition smoother.
Get your child excited
Being positive and supportive is a must in the months and weeks leading up to the first bell, according to Harvard Health.
Get in a habit of talking about how much fun kindergarten will be and all they will do once school starts. A big way to do this is to also take your kid shopping for supplies. After all, what can get your son or daughter more excited than getting to pick out their backpack, crayons and markers for the year?
Establish a bedtime routine
Kids who go to kindergarten should sleep nine to 10 hours a night and usually need at least an hour of calm-down time before bed that can also including toothbrushing and reading, so establish a bedtime based on that and when they need to get up in the morning for school. For example, if your child needs to get up at 7 a.m., make sure bedtime is no later than 9 the previous night.
Figure out the logistics
Whether it’s getting vaccinations updated, figuring out the bus schedule, planning out days and times to get your kid to and from either the bus stop or school -- along with getting to know the teacher, planning out what to do for lunch (what items to buy at the store, how much money to spend at the cafeteria) or establishing some emergency contacts, plenty needs to be done before the first day in order to make sure it’s the best experience possible for your child.
Don’t drag out goodbyes
Whether it’s putting a child on the bus or dropping him or her off at the school door on the first day, quick goodbyes and a reminder from you that you’ll be there later in the day is the way to go, according to Partnership for a Healthier America.
Should your child cry, it’s nothing unexpected for a teacher who is trained to handle such a situation. Once the child gets in the classroom, he or she will settle down and get into a routine.
Take advantage of new free time
With your child gone for eight hours a day during the week, the possibilities can be endless now. If there are younger kids to worry about, you can now devote more time to bonding with them. If not, and you’ve always wanted to get a part-time job to help with family expenses, that is also another option.
Or, if you simply want time to yourself, then live it up. Go to a movie, go shopping, have coffee with a friend, play golf, whatever! Crossing that kindergarten finish line can have its perks.
This story was first published in 2019. It has since been updated.