Our girly is headed off to kindergarten this month. Because it's all-day everyday, and because I've been home with her all-day everyday for the last 4-ish years, this is a big transition for all of us. In preparation, I asked my go-to education guru (my sister-in-law, Michaela) to write up suggestions for helping us get ready for this life change.
Michaela was a first and second grade teacher for seven years before she transitioned to staying home full-time with her own girly. Now, she puts her gifts of creativity and childhood education into creating educational resources for teachers and parents and now a great kindergarten curriculum, too.
Below is Michaela's experienced and balanced teacher/parent perspective on getting ready for back-to-school and first-time-at-school. Even if your little one's school year has already started, these are great to keep in mind throughout the school year.
1. Set a routine.Night-time (getting to bed at a decent time is so important), clothes laid out, baths, breakfast, out the door time, etc. I love the visual schedules for kids that have pictures of what they need to do to get ready in the morning.
2. Make time for a quality breakfast.Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Try to make it a priority to give your child a nutritious and ﬁlling breakfast. It’s a long time before lunch and a grumbling stomach makes it very difﬁcult to concentrate in the classroom.
3. Create a quiet space with adequate supplies for “homework”.Continue to be involved in their learning by reading with them, asking what they learned in school that day, and communicating with their teacher. A parent is a child’s ﬁrst teacher after all!
4. Stick to the list.It actually is important that you purchase the brand that the teacher requests on the supply list. I feel slightly bad telling you this, since I am a frugal to the core person myself, but trust me on this one. If you skimp on glue sticks and crayons...you just may be receiving a letter from your teacher soon letting you know they have broken (or never worked in the ﬁrst place), and it’s time to replace them. Don’t say I didn’t tell you so. ;)
5. Allow your child the freedom to have school be their space.Wait for them to invite you into their world. This may include letting them say good-bye to you at the door, allowing them to carry their own backpack and supplies, and respecting their newfound independence. They still love you and want you to be proud of them!
6. Give your child (and yourself) some grace!With test scores, readiness outlines, and grade expectations, it’s easy to get caught up in the go-go-go of trying to measure up. If your child’s teacher has suggestions for improvement, take them of course and do your best...but infuse it with grace, love, and patience towards your child and their personal developmental pace. (You’ll be glad you did.)
7. Speaking of grace...your child’s teacher could use some too!Remember that we’re all human and make mistakes; your child’s teacher is no different. At the same time, they’ve committed their life to pouring themselves into children and specifically into your child, so give them grace and thank them when you can. Don’t forget you’re both on the same team for your child!
8. Make it special.Think of a special way to let your child know you love and support them this year. It can be committing to place notes in their snack or lunch boxes, setting aside special time when they get home to have time to talk about their day, or a special handshake or signal when you drop them off that is just for them. It doesn’t have to be much, but knowing that mom or dad is rooting for them during the day can give them the conﬁdence they need to tackle those difﬁcult tasks at school.
Back-to-school can be a tough transition time for everyone involved, but being positive and having an open mind with your child and school can make all the difference. This year will be what you make it. If you think this will be the best year yet (or the worst ever)... you’re right. Make it a great one!
I may have choked up reading through some of those. Maybe that's partly because of my unstable emotions, but it's also because this encouragement and insight is just what I need for this season.
Thank you so much for these words of support, Michaela!
Whether you're looking for things you can do with your little ones at home, a gift for your child's teacher, or maybe you are a teacher--be sure and check out Michaela's great designs, resources and printables at We Heart Edu, as well as her awesome kindergarten resources at KinderQuest!
For more from Michaela...
instagram | @WeHeartEdu
store | We Heart Edu // KinderQuest
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a note for the hard days of motherhood
Originally published Aug. 12, 2013; updated Aug. 8, 2017.