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Getting My Son - and Me - Ready for Kindergarten

By Ana de Aguiar, Web Director of The Children's Movement of Florida

I couldn't sleep.

It was the night before my son's first day of kindergarten, and while Marco was sound asleep, my nerves were getting the best of me. Was he ready? Did I prepare him well enough for his first day? Would he cry when I dropped him off? Would he know how to open the containers in his lunch box? All these worries, and more, plagued me.

As a mother of three, I should have been prepared for my youngest child's first day of kindergarten, the first big step into formal school. But the idea of no naptime and a more structured learning environment was enough to keep me worried about this transition.

As all parents know, children have their own way of handling things, their own idiosyncrasies and rituals that help them during transitions. But I had learned that with Marco's sensory processing disorder, transitions are harder on him than most, so we worked hard to get him mentally ready for what would come to pass.

Here are a few steps we took to help him:

  • Bedtime: A few weeks before school began, we started to keep a routine around wake-up and bedtime. This way, the routine would be established by the time school started, and his sleep schedule could be adjusted in time for school to begin. I'm glad I did this, because it made waking up that first day easier.
  • Breakfast time: It's important to provide a solid and nutritious breakfast to the kiddos, but it's equally as important to spend those minutes connecting with your child. Take the time to share the love, talk about the upcoming day, or spend time being silly together. Those are the moments my kid - and probably yours - will remember when the day gets tough.
  • Pack a good lunch: There are tons of Pinterest boards with the most colorful lunch options for kids, but sometimes all your child wants is a sandwich and a cookie. Be smart. Take cues from your child, and pack a healthy lunch that your child will WANT to eat. School will be tough enough the first few weeks. Let them find comfort and energy in their lunchbox.
  • Be on time: Mornings can be hectic enough, so make your life easier and plan to be at the school with enough time to spare, so your child has time to handle all the feels without feeling pressured to begin the day immediately. It's good for both of you.
  • Saying goodbye: Goodbyes are the hardest part of the first day of school, but with a little practice and a lot of will power, we can help our kids. Never sneak away without a kiss or hug, and reassure your little one you will be back to pick them up, and can't wait to hear all about their day.

Parenting can be an exciting, scary and awesome experience. Kindergarten is no different for your child. Enjoy the magic and mystery that comes with the unknown, and bask in your child's happiness and pride as they conquer their first assignments or color the most spectacular owl you've ever seen.

Children will always look to parents for their cues, so be positive, be prepared and be happy, and half the battle is won before you even leave the house. Good luck!