The time has finally come: Your child is going to school. Whether they’re heading out to their first day of kindergarten or middle school, the first day at a new school can be an exciting and anxious all at once. With good preparation and some forward thinking, parents and children alike can wake up on the first day of school feeling confident and happy to be undertaking a new adventure. Here are some tips and reminders to help you make this back-to-school season the best one yet.
Preparing for the First Day
To help ease the jitters, talk to your child about what will be expected of them each day in school and what they will be doing. Ask them how they feel about starting school, and make sure to point out all of the new experiences they will have, like making friends and playing with other children. If possible, visit the school together before the first day so that they can see the campus, meet their teacher, and visit their classroom. Try to engage your child in the preparation process as much as possible by reading books about starting school together, shopping for lunch items and school supplies, and picking out what they will wear on the first day.
When it’s time to head off to school for the first time, leave a note in their lunch box to remind them of your love. These strategies and actions can help your child see the first day of school as the beginning of something positive, rather than the end of their time spending all day at home with you.
Each teacher may request different school supplies, such as a particular style of binder or a donation of tissue boxes for the classroom. It’s important to purchase the items requested on this list to help your child avoid feeling embarrassed and unprepared on the first day of school. If no list is provided, make sure to get the basics: pencils, crayons, markers, erasers, glue sticks, blunt scissors, folders, a notebook, and a pencil case. Older children may need binder paper, a ruler, pens, index cards, a calculator, and a planner or agenda as well. Many teachers hand out supply lists on the first day of school, so be prepared for another shopping trip to pick up extra supplies if necessary. Take your child shopping with you so that they can pick out supplies that match their style and help them feel more excited for the coming school year.
It’s important to pack healthy meals that will help your child feel full and energized all day long. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can get boring after a while, so consider some new lunch options. Consider a fun breakfast for lunch option with pancakes, maple syrup, and fruit, or a miniature picnic with fruit, veggie sticks, and your family’s favorite picnic foods. Tortilla roll ups with classic sandwich ingredients like turkey and lettuce or even pizza toppings inside can also be a fun treat for your child. Consider packing all of these delicious lunches in a BPA-free bento lunch box.
These containers are double insulated with a snap on lid that is easy to open and close, keeping food at the proper temperature without the risk of spills. Bento lunch boxes are divided into multiple compartments, making it easy for parents to store a complete meal with the correct portion sizes in one single box. It’s less for your child to carry and less to wash later, allowing for faster storage and cleanup at any time of day.
Having a defined routine each day can help children feel more prepared and better rested for the day ahead. A good routine should include waking up early enough to dress, eat breakfast, and arrive at school on time in the mornings. In the evenings, children should have scheduled times for having a snack, playing, completing homework, having dinner, and preparing for the next day by ensuring their backpacks and lunches are packed and that an outfit is ready to go for the next morning. Be sure to include anything else in your routine that may be necessary for your child, such as preparing for after-school activities.
Practicing routines with children helps them feel more confident. They will understand what is expected of them each day both in school and at home, allowing them to move through their days more easily. In addition, children who know what they need to do next may be more independent, completing tasks before they are asked according to their schedule.
If your child will be wearing a uniform to school, shopping for clothing can be easier than expected. Make sure to purchase enough uniform components that they will always have something clean to wear in between laundry days, and ensure that everything fits well enough that they will be able to play at recess without worry. If your child is given options for their uniform — such as different colored shirts or the option to wear shorts or pants — purchase enough of each that they will have some variety in what they wear.
For children who do not wear uniforms, shopping for appropriate school clothing can be more difficult. Ensure that they have enough pants, shorts, skirts, long and short sleeved shirts, sweaters, jackets, socks, and underwear to make it through to laundry day each week. It may be helpful to consult the school’s rules to ensure that the clothing purchased meets all requirements necessary, as some schools request that students wear shirts with collars or blue pants only, for example. If you’re unsure about whether an item would be approved, consider purchasing just one and showing it to your child’s teacher for advice before purchasing other similar items.
In both cases, children should have shoes that allow them to comfortably play and walk around. Generally, closed-toed shoes in approved colors are the safest option to help avoid stubbed toes and cuts. Consider purchasing a pair of dress shoes as well for special occasions, such as the last day of school or any awards ceremonies.