It’s back-to-school time and our children are preparing for school. This brings out mixed emotions for both parents and children. Here are some ways to talk about feelings and help prepare your child for school.
We all have feelings. Now’s the time to bring them out, talk about them, and address the excitement and fears (both yours and your children’s)
It doesn’t matter if your child will be preparing for School Brings Mixed Emotions for both Parents and Children
- starting preschool for the first time,
- is headed off to their first day of kindergarten,
- or will be starting their homeschool curriculum.
Preparing for school sets off a mixture of emotions for both parents and children. Know that your emotions during the preparation for back-to-school time may run on overdrive. Reach out to family members and friends to share your excitement and discuss any concerns you may have. You are not alone!
My friend said it best: “I am excited and sad at the same time”
The kids may be feeling some of the same emotions. Make time as you are preparing for school to address these feelings together.
Where we are this year:
This year, my almost 3 year old will be going to a traditional preschool classroom 2 mornings a week. I’ve never had any of my babies go to school this young, but we are butting heads big time and our family has decided 2 mornings a week with other kids may be just what he needs. The rest of the time he will be with me, doing “mommy school.”
My 5 year old will be attending kindergarten. He is thrilled to be going to school at the same place as his big sister. We keep reminding him that they will not see each other during the day. He says, “don’t worry, she will bring me to my classroom every morning.” <tear>
My 9 year old will be entering 4th grade. Oh where did the time go. I’m already hearing the buzz about middle school. She’s a voracious reader with an advanced vocabulary and a thirst for knowledge.
I am not a homeschooler. We afterschool. Meaning, when my children come home from public school we play board games, do science experiments, go on educational field trips, sew, garden, read, write letters and do all the academic and life lessons we feel may not be covered to the full extent during the classic school day.
For us, it’s the best of both worlds. We have friends who send their kids to public schools, private schools, homeschool, and even ones that unschool. No matter what school you have chosen, we hope you are finding it a good fit for your family.
Preparing for school can be exciting.
Yes, starting school is a new and exciting adventure for you and your child. It’s O.K. to be giddy happy as you see what an amazing person your child is growing up to be and all the possibilities that the world holds for them. Preparing for school brings out new clothes, new backpacks, and new supplies. It’s an exciting new beginning for both you and your child.
We just got back from Target and my 5 year old picked out his own “big boy” backpack to use for the next few years. His little brother (2 1/2 latched on to a Paw Patrol backpack) He put it on and said it was his new back-pack for school. My heart got so warm seeing them running through the isles all smiles for school and learning.
Share the excitement together. Smile. Talk about the new adventures your child will go on.
– I’m looking forward to helping you learn your letters this year.
-This year will be a great opportunity to make some new friends. Let’s make sure to plan some park playdates!
– You can draw a triangle, but I bet you will be able to draw even more shapes by the end of the year.
– My favorite class at school was math. I can’t wait to see what your favorite subjects to learn will be.
Tips for children
- Ask your child what they are excited about.
- Let them select their own water bottle or backpack.
- Have them draw a picture of how they are feeling.
- Make up and sing a silly song:
Back to School Song
by Amanda Boyarshinov
To the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb
Fill your child’s name in for Sarah.
Change the backpack color if needed.
Switch the school supplies for additional verses.
Sarah had a blue backpack, blue backpack, blue backpack.
Sarah had a blue backpack she brought with her to school.
She filled it up with paper and pencils, paper and pencils, paper and pencils.
She filled it up with paper and pencils and took them all to school.
Really LISTEN to what they have to say. Respond to their excitement. (Maybe even write it down, because that’s the stuff that you really want to remember when they are older, but may forget the exact way they said it. Here is the interview and writing prompts we use every year. )We also like to have a space to feature our children’s school work. This display hangs up year round and helps us to keep the excitement going. Now would be a great time to set up this area with your child.
Preparing for school can be sad and nerve wracking.
I missed my child SO VERY MUCH the first day she went off to kindergarten. It was the first time we had been away from each other for more than 3 hours. She was the excited one, and I was the one missing her. She’s headed off to 4th grade and I STILL MISS her like crazy every day she is in school. Helicopter parent? Nope, I just love her from the tips of my fingers to the bottom of my toes and look foward to seeing her smiling face when she returns.
Now that my middle child is heading off to kindergarten, I’ve got the worries again. Will he make friends. Will his teacher be kind and caring? Will she be patient and explain the same thing over and over until he gets it? Will he be happy?
It’s OK to be sad, nervous, and a little scared about what the future brings.
At one of the schools I taught at, the PTA (Parent Teacher Association) organized a Boo Hoo breakfast for all kindergarten parents the first day of school They knew that many would be missing their babies and be feeling a little sad. This breakfast provided opportunities for parents to connect with other families and led to longer friendships throughout the grade school years.
Even if your child’s school doesn’t organize a get together. Reach out to friends and schedule time to get together that first week of school and share your emotions.
Someways I almost worry myself to a stomach ache. Those are the days when I give my child a big hug and call my Mom or a Friend. I don’t tell my child that everything will be ok, because they are not always ok. I always reassure them that I am and will be there to help them navigate through life and that I trust they will make good decisions.
If your child is homeschooling, you may also have worries and fears too. Will my child miss out on school experiences? Will we find a group of families with similar views to share experiences with? How will I organize the year to cover everything we want to touch on? It may be harder to find time within the “school day” to find adult only time, but it’s important. Touch base with other homeschooling parents in these first few weeks of school.
Grown-ups have sad feelings about back-to-school time, and so do kids.
They may worry about finding friends, new teachers, or even where to sit at lunch. Some of these worries are big worries and others are small. Make a point to really LISTEN to what they have to say. Respond to their fears or worries in a kid-appropriate way.
Tips for children heading off to school
- Do a routine walk-through the week before school starts.
- Pack a family picture in a backpack.
- Write a love note and put it in their lunch box. Even if they cannot read, they can see a heart or smiley face.
- Explain to them the new schedule, when and where they will be picked up.
- Show them the calendar and mark the day it is right now and when school starts.
- Give them a hug and tell them they can talk to you about anything.
- Read the Kissing Hand.
Preparing for School Activity
When I first started teaching kindergarten, we met with each kindergartner and their family prior to the first day of school. During that time, our team of teachers brought a little snack for the kids. It was a small bag with 26 teddy bear snacks 13 graham flavored and 13 chocolate bears. We explained that the room was going to be filled with the same amount of children as there were bear snacks. With only one teacher, we talked about how to problem solve, get a teacher’s attention, and make friends.
You can do this activity with your child too. Take any small snack that has 2 different flavors (Cheddar Bunnies have cheddar and pretzel) and count out the number of children that will be in your child’s class. One color represents the boys and the other color represents the girls. Thankfully, due to class size reductions, our early childhood classrooms are at 18! Although most classrooms are not an even 50:50 boy-girl mix, the little bunnies just help children get an idea of what to expect.
Once you have your small group of bears or bunny snacks:
- Count the snacks together.
- Explain that there will be the same about of children in the class as there are bunnies.
- Discuss how all the children (bunnies) would get from place to place. Line the snacks up in a single line. Yes it takes time! It does in real life too!.
- Talk about how they might get the teachers attention if they needed help. (raising a hand is most commonly used)
- Pretend to have one bunny as another one if they wanted to play.
More Preparing For School Tips from the Early Childhood Education Team:
Back to School Tips for Parents PLUS Visual Morning Chart! by The Preschool Toolbox Blog
Starting Kindergarten-Books and Activities by Capri + 3
Make Back to School Books to Ease the Transition by Fun-A-Day
4 Back to School Tips: Preparing for School by Learning 2 Walk
Preparing for Preschool: Creative Center in a Box by Powerful Mothering
How to Plan for Preschool at Home by Mom Inspired Life
Supporting preschool learning at home by Rainy Day Mum
Setting Literacy Goals by Growing Book by Book
Traditional Preschool or Homeschool Preschool or Both? by Still Playing School
Teaching Preschool at Home by Raising Lifelong Learner
Preparing for School Brings Mixed Emotions for both Parents and Children by The Educators’ Spin On It (HERE)
Prepare a Hands-On Preschool at Home by Life Over C’s
You may also find these back to school activities helpful…