How to Survive the First Day of Kindgarten

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So here it is, that day you’ve been looking forward to – or maybe dreading. The first day of Kindergarten. You hope you made a great choice for your child, and that he or she will come home exhilarated, bursting with new information, and excited by what they are sure are new best friends. You hope you made a great choice for yourself, and that you’ll find other parents to talk to, an administration you feel is responsive to your concerns, teachers who communicate with parents – in short, you hope it’s kind of like that preschool you love to death and can’t imagine leaving.

Well, sort of. Let’s face it, Kindergarten – and elementary school – is not preschool. Because here’s the thing – preschool was focused primarily on your child’s development, whereas school is more about making sure your kids have the knowledge and skills they will need to succeed in life. Both of them are of course really about giving your child the foundation they will need to become learners, to explore, to work well with others, to think deeply and be confident in their ability to do so.

But for now this is the first day of Kindergarten, and, while in preschool your child might have been given snack twice a day, reminded to eat their lunch, drink water, and then taken a nice long nap, that’s not going to happen in school. So what can you expect? What do you need to prepare?

For one, don’t stock up on those fetching pencil cases, pencils, erasers, scissors, etc. – unless your school has sent you a list to fill before the first day of school. Most schools will let you know what you need, and what they need from you, from the first day on through the last. Do pack some extra clothes – yes, a complete set, just in case of accidents. School yards and bathrooms aren’t always right next to each other. And an extra sweatshirt won’t weigh them down too much.

There will be time for a morning snack – but if your school hasn’t told you otherwise, for the most part you will need to provide it. If your child is staying for an extended day – after school is out – you definitely want to pack a morning and afternoon snack. You will also have to pack a lunch – again, unless you have made other arrangements with your school. If you’re going to public school, you might want to have your child buy lunch at the cafeteria – kids LOVE cafeteria lunches! – but you’ll still need to pack a lunch on that first day.

If you need to drop your child off before the school day, in public school you can also opt for the cafeteria breakfast available to the before-care students. Then, mid-morning, there is a morning snack break. Either pack a snack – fruit, nuts, trail mix, muffins, croissants, cheese sticks, juice, bagel and cream cheese, quesadillas, hard boiled eggs – or plan on the morning snack available in the public school cafeteria for purchase, where there is always a boxed cereal option if you have a picky eater. School lunches are getting healthier these days, and really, the kids do love them. Private schools often have many hot lunch options you can sign up for online and in advance – but still, that first day, you might want to pack their lunch in that brand new lunchbox that matches the brand new backpack.

In the afternoon, if your child is staying for an extended day, sorry, no napping, and there is generally no food available at the school. Again, check with your school on this! Active parent groups are changing what the options are at schools everywhere. Whatever you do give them for afternoon snack will have to tide them over until dinner – you can include things like veggies and dip, salami, crackers and cheese, pretzels, corn chips, trail mix, fruit, yogurt.

If you include something perishable, don’t forget to put an ice pack into their lunchbox – most schools don’t refrigerate student lunchboxes. And don’t forget to pack water! No one is going to be reminding your child to drink throughout the day – the best reminder is the bottle peeking out from the backpack side pocket – and maybe the little notes they will find from you reminding them to do so.

No matter what they eat or drink, though, they will definitely feel your presence and how you are still there taking care of them by packing what they love – and that’s probably the most important thing to remember about the first day of Kindergarten. They’ll do fine – will you?

School days will be here before you know it. Here’s what you need to know.

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