I can remember the day like it was yesterday. Two years ago, my daughter had her first day of school starting Junior Kindergarten. It was also the first day that she would travel on a school bus.
I was so excited for her and all the new things she was going to experience and friends that she was going to make. However, deep down I was a little saddened that she was growing up and no longer my ‘baby girl’.
Once we packed up her new backpack with her shoes and lunch bag, off we went to the bus stop, but not before taking the traditional first day of school picture. As we stood at the bus stop, she instantly made connections with the other children her age who were also waiting for the bus. After much anticipation, the bus finally arrived! She turned to me, gave me a kiss and hug goodbye, and as she went to board the bus, she turned around and said to me, “And Mommy, don’t follow the bus.” She had heard me mention to one of the other parents that I was planning to follow the bus to school and just watch to be sure that she got into the school okay. Obviously, she felt quite confident in herself and the adventure that she was about to embark upon. I, however, was still a little nervous about sending my 4-year old out into this new world on her own, so I secretly did meet the bus at the school and watched from the parking lot to ensure her success in getting to where she needed to be.
When she got home from school that day, she had so much to share and couldn’t wait for the next day to come so that she could go back to school. I was thrilled to see how excited and charged up she was about going to school. As I reflect on that day, I ask myself, “What did I do to prepare her for school in the best way I could?”
There were other children venturing on to this new experience that didn’t seem to deal with it as well, with tears and having to be pried from their mother’s leg. Although the child’s personality has much to do with their reaction and coping ability to new situations, I also think that there are things we can do as parents to help prepare them.
Here are a few things that I did to help prepare my daughter for her first day of school:
- I took her with me to her new school when I picked up the registration information. This gave her some familiarity as to where she was going to go to school and the opportunity to meet some of the new faces at the school such as the school secretary.
- We had regular conversations about going to school and what to expect. This built up the excitement about embarking on a new venture as well as helped her sort through what would be acceptable and not acceptable at school.
- We read plenty of books about going to school. The library has a huge selection of these kinds of books. Here are a few at London Public Library.
- I believe that having her in formal child care prior to attending school was a great contributor to making her adjustment to school so smooth. She had already dealt with the separation anxiety and was accustomed to classroom routines and expectations.
- We participated in the school tour which allowed her to meet her new teachers and visit her new classroom.
I am so very proud of my daughter and can’t wait to share in her academic successes as she grows. She demonstrates a love for learning, and I feel as though her positive experiences in kindergarten are going to be the basis of her continued educational accomplishments.