A “can-do” attitude:

Small, helpful ways to help your kids get ready for their first day of school

There sure seems to be a lot of prep involved with getting your kids ready to go back to school. There’s the mad dash to shop for shoes/clothes/supplies/snacks, the all-important hair cut, the struggle to get back on that early bedtime schedule, and adjusting to wearing (eek!) socks again. However, there are some seemingly small things you can do ahead of time with your children to make their first days and weeks of school go so much more smoothly.

Even if your child has been in daycare since she was an infant, “real school” is often a different animal. The kid to adult ratio is higher, and the expectations for independence are, too. Below are some tips, gathered from both the “teacher” and the “mommy” halves of my brain, for how you can help your soon-to-be big kid transition to school. Some might seem like little things, but they’ll make a big difference…really!

  • Pack snack and lunch foods that your child will eat and you deem acceptable. Don’t pack the foods you don’t want her to eat. I’ve had parents tell me it was the school’s job to make sure their child didn’t eat their “dessert” foods until they’d eaten their main course foods first. Possible in a daycare perhaps, but not possible in school.
  • Tell your child not to toss left-over food at school- bring it home! You might discover she is eating every drop of food and still starving, has way too much food and is wasting tons in the trash, or that she’s eating only fruit snacks and not touching those carefully prepared turkey-and-hummus-with-spring-greens sandwiches you’ve been making. There’s a lot of info in that lunch box when the scraps come home periodically.
  • Opening Snacks 101: String cheese, Capri Sun, and little hands. Teachers and lunchroom aides are always happy to help open difficult packages, but it’s less embarrassing for kids to know how to do it themselves, and it’s nice for them to not have to wait for help when they’re starving. Practice those hard-to-open things at home, or pre-pull a corner on the cheese when you pack it.
  • Make sure she knows how to wipe all by herself in the bathroom! This might seem like a no-brainer, but I once had a first grader ask me to check after he wiped (I declined, saying “Just do your best job and have mom check at home…I’m sure you’ll do just fine.”).
  • Function first, form second with clothing. Skirts, tights, overalls, skinny jeans…all adorable, however, be sure to dress your child in clothing that she can handle without assistance. It’s not that teachers don’t want to help snap a snap, but that kids are embarrassed to ask and don’t want their classmates to see them ask for help after they return from a bathroom break.
  • Dress for fun and learning! No one wants to be the kid on the playground who is terrified of being yelled at by Mom and Dad for getting dirt on her brand new, expensive clothes. No…fun…at all. Make sure your kids are able to be kids. I’ve had parents tell me that they “hope there won’t be anything messy like painting going on today” because their kids are in fancy clothes. There are, of course, smocks, but there are also…five year olds and paint. No guarantees here on anything made of silk or angora.

Best wishes for a happy first day back!

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