I remember when my first son started preschool. I didn't know what to expect or how to prepare. I also didn't know what the heck to bring. In other words, I was a basket case.
When a kid goes to school for the first time, it can be scary. And not just for the little one. I was a mess when my toddler went to preschool. The truth is he was fine (after I left), and I was the crying baby.
Although I prepared a little, I wish I had had more of an inkling on what to expect before dropping him off that day.
So here are some ways to prepare for the first day of school that might work for you and your little one.
Buy a good backpack
Backpacks are crucial for back to school, and I made a mistake by getting my little tyke a large Superman backpack (give me a break, it was on clearance) that caused him almost to topple over when I put his blanket inside.
So why not go for a smaller backpack? The Luvabub backpack not only engages children with kid-friendly designs but also is the perfect size for their tiny bodies! This backpack would have saved my little guy a lot of spills.
As my girl, Alanis Morissette sang, “You live, you learn.”
Strike up a conversation about school
Sometime before dropping off your kiddo, you may want to open up a discussion about school. And if you do, be honest.
Tell your little one that they are going to school and will be away from mommy for the day. And try to reassure them that they are going to have fun with his teachers, friends, crafts, and the playground.
They might just run for the door.
Visit the school with your child before the first day
You might want to set up a SHORT visit before sending your kid to school. A lot of schools allow this and will be happy to accommodate you if you ask.
A visit will give you and your child a feel for what to expect. It also will provide some comfort and security for that scary first day. Just remember to keep it short. If the teacher asks if you're interviewing for the assistant position, you’ve been there too long.
Your visit could be as simple as attending lunch at the new school with your child. Teachers can usually accommodate a lunch, and it’s a laid-back time that will provide a basic idea of what to expect. Plus, you might even get to eat a Go-gurt and some Mac and Cheese.
Or, you can send your little nugget to have lunch on their own. If this is your preference, I recommend getting a Slushy and then sitting in the parking lot while absorbing the silence.
Talk to the teachers
I was a teacher for years, and I met with many prospective parents. It was evident that the ones with questions were very interested in the success of their child.
But I also had a job to do. So there's a fine line that you have to walk with this one. Try not to go in there expecting to take an hour of the teacher’s time. As much as teachers would love to sit and chat about your wonderful munchkin’s sensitive stomach, teachers are super busy.
However, it's not too much to ask to go in and introduce yourself and have a brief (we parents tend to be Gabber Mgees) conversation. Introduce yourself, tell a little bit about your kid, then ask a few questions.
By questions, you probably don’t want to ask the teacher what kind of perfume she's wearing. Try to get to the point, and quick. I’m telling you, teachers are busy. (They’re almost superhuman too, but that’s another post.) Maybe ask what a sample day looks like. That might be the only question you need.
Mrs. Rene was my son’s teacher, and she was this sweet older lady with a soothing voice and horned-rimmed glasses. She introduced herself briefly, told me about the schedule, and handed me a sample craft project.
She was so prepared that she told me everything I needed to know before I could even open up my pie hole. This was probably best for everyone.
I also was sold, and a little less freaked out for my son to start school.
Try not to linger
Yes, it can be very tempting on the first day of school to hang around when dropping off your little bundle of joy.
You can easily find yourself holding your child's hand and walking around her classroom. Then, before you know it, you're introducing yourself to all of their classmates and asking what's for snack time. But try to drop off your rascal and get the heck out of there.
I know that the first time I dropped my son off at preschool, I hung around for a little longer than I probably should have.
And this ended up just making my toddler anxious. He decided to hold onto my pant leg and resembled a freaky looking slipper. I should have kissed him, told him to have a nice day, and hightailed it out of there like a hyena on a mission.
I found out later that if I dropped off my child with a quick routine-and resisted the urge to build a block tower - fewer tantrums ensued. Although it was heartbreaking to leave a clingy child, it only became worse the longer I stuck around. Plus, I learned that he had a great day once I left.
So even though the first day of school may give you both the jitters, it doesn't have to be traumatic. Some of these simple strategies may work for you.
And if you’re shedding more tears than the first time you watched Beaches, remember that school helps develop strong relationships with children and other adults. This, Mom and Dad, is a good thing.
Although it's hard to drop your loveable rugrat off and say goodbye, this transition will be good for the both of you.
Who knows? School might even give you a breather, or at least an opportunity to sing along uninterrupted to Beyonce on the way home.