It’s 7:00 AM on the first day of school for your kindergartner. She is sound asleep, it’s still dark outside and you have to wake her up to prepare her and yourself for the adventure this day will surely bring.
You’re anxious. Let’s face it; you are terrified to let your baby leave your sight. She is not getting out of bed as fast as you would like and even though she picked out her outfit for the day, the weather changed overnight and you clearly cannot send her to school in shorts and sandals.
She finally awakes, and much to your surprise, she isn’t hungry for breakfast; you can’t let her leave the house on an empty stomach. You’ve read all the studies about fueling the brain and body. In typical childlike fashion, you can see the temper tantrum that will erupt and the tears that will certainly follow.
What is that noise? Is the bus at the curb already? Oh no, you wanted to take a picture of her stepping up to the bus waiving back at us with her cute, smiling face.
Drat! We missed the bus!
Time to pack up the car. You drive your child to school late, hungry, cold, and with a red nose and swollen eyes from crying. You are a wreck and now you have to go to your job.
That first day of school commemorative picture of her will not be anyone’s fondest memory.
But wait – it doesn’t have to be like this.
Here are some helpful ideas to make getting ready for school a win-win for all whether it’s the first day or well into the semester.
Do whatever you can the night before:
Plan out two outfits, using the weather forecast as your guideline (maybe even special new jammies the night before the first day of kindergarten).
Provide a special bed time snack, along with a bedtime story. No scary stories on this night.
Offer, then plan to serve healthy breakfast items – ones that can be easily prepared in the morning. Check and then re-check the backpack.
The week before school starts, set an alarm a tad earlier than usual to get her used to the fact that it may be dark when the alarm goes off.
After that first day of school, talk about what you both can do to get ready for the next morning. You might have her help you make a “getting ready for school” chart to hang on the fridge or place on her bedroom door or bathroom mirror. Include all the tasks, step-by-step.
Have a Family Meeting
Family meetings are beneficial in times of change, such as the first day of school. There are many websites devoted to the idea of family meetings with content to guide you. Use your planned family meeting ideas life-long.
Need some help deciding the format for a family meeting? This is how we, at PREPARE/ENRICH, define a family meeting:
A family meeting is a time for all family members to get together and to share and re-connect with each other. Spending time together helps family members feel supported and it can become an important family ritual.
Includes all family members who are old enough participate.
Establish a regular time and place when the entire family is together, such as after a family meal.
Encourage discussion by everyone. Do not criticize and critique.
Allow the speaker to finish their thought before offering your comments, observations or input.
Ice Breaker Questions: (use age-appropriate terminology)
What do you feel was the best thing that happened to you or our family today (this week or recently)?
What was the worst thing that happened to you or our family this week? What could we have done differently to resolve the issue?
Have conversations that encourage, support, and offer solutions. You might be surprised at how close you become as a family on many levels at any age for any of the daily issues that surface.
Unfortunately, your job as a parent is to prepare her to leave you. Start her off with the best possible skill set, because before you know it she will be grown and out of the house – on her way to an adventure of her own.
Lastly, remember to celebrate your accomplishments. For your first family meeting, go out for ice cream!