If this Fall marks your little one’s first foray into daycare or kindergarten, there’s a lot to think about! Back to School season is such an exciting time and probably a bit emotional for us parents, too, if we’re honest. Here’s how to prepare yourself and your child for the big day.
Talk, talk, talk
If you haven’t already started talking about daycare or school, now is the time to start! One big conversation isn’t enough for their little hearts and minds to comprehend what’s happening, so aim to have many mini conversations in the weeks to come. Communicate that changes are ahead, they’ll have new rhythms to their days, what the daycare or school will be like, and the new friends they’ll make. These conversations can be as short as a sentence such as, “I wonder what your class room will look like once you start kindergarten?” or “I can’t wait to meet your teacher! I’m sure they are excited to meet you too!” Or longer discussions where you ask them deeper questions, such as, “Is there anything you’re worried about with school coming up?” Be available to your child in these weeks to come – sometimes the only way to have those quality conversations is to offer quantity time.
Prepare for the new daily rhythms
If your child has never been to daycare or school before, their days are about to change in many ways – prepare them for these changes. A few days prior to the first day, set an alarm for the time you’ll need to start rising on school days, and begin your school morning routine. Have your child get dressed and give her breakfast at the same time that you will on a school morning. Have her choose a backpack and practice packing it. Stressful, rushed mornings are the worst way for anyone to begin the day, especially children, so make sure your new morning routine is understood, feasible, and practiced before the actual first day. This will help you and your kids know what to expect in the weeks to come, and make their first day of school more comfortable.
Get inspired for health lunches and snacks
This may be the first time your child has had a regular meal outside of the home, so brainstorm lunch and snack ideas together to include her in the process. Most schools are now nut-free, so consider other main courses such as cold pasta salad, meat and cheese, tuna sandwiches, or hard boiled eggs. Take your child grocery shopping to choose the food together and let her pick out a lunch bag and water bottle. Make sure your child’s lunch bag is insulated if you have any dairy or meat products! I love the Nomnom Insulated Bag by Zoli and Zoo Lunchies by Skip Hop.
Plan a Waste-free Lunch
Few things have opened my eyes to needless waste than packing three lunches each day for my children. There is so much packaging! Instead of packing a juice box, which is full of sugar anyway, pack a water bottle in their lunch, like these cute ones from Klean Kanteen or Skip Hop. Mother earth, and their teachers, will thank you for choosing water bottles over juice boxes! Another way to curb waste is choosing reusable snack bags over the classic plastic ones. Your kids can colour their own with these Colibri bags, pick their favourite pattern with these bags by Bumkins, or resemble the disposable bags without the waste, with these silicone bags by Silikids.
When the first day arrives, you can be as prepared as can be, but it will still hit you. Do your best to save your emotions for the car after drop off and remain a solid, positive presence for your child on their first day. Any teacher will tell you that parents who are overcome by emotion, or stay too long into the first day, do make the transition more difficult for the child and other kids observing, too. As a parent, these milestones are never easy, even when they’re exciting! And they are exciting! Your child is entering a new world, and it’s our job to support them every step of the way.
Emily is a Montreal-based writer and blogger, but most importantly, a mom of three littles (age five and under). She geeks out over cloth diapers, lattes, and will do just about anything to travel. You can find her on Instagram @emmorrice where she profusely overgrams pictures of her meals, kids and city.