As the first day of school approaches, excitement is in the air. If your child is starting kindergarten, there’s more than excitement. Chances are, there’s a bit of anxiety, too. In fact, they’re probably chock-full of a lot of the same emotions that you are – incredible anticipation mixed with a stomach full of butterflies.

There is only one first day of kindergarten. And while your child will have many first days of school, this one’s a biggie. They’ll be looking to you for cues as to how to react. Luckily, there’s lots you can do to prepare them.

First of all, talk about school! Tell them their teacher’s name so they can start practicing.

Talk about the things that they are going to learn, the books they may read, the art projects they may get the chance to do. Talk about skills or topics in which they’ve shown interest, if you think they’ll be covered in class. Ask your child about her feelings. Are they scared? Why? Try to ease their fears by addressing them with concrete information. For example, “Don’t worry I will pack your lunch,” or “You will know someone in your class – remember Jack from preschool?”

You’ve done the “tell” part of Show and Tell. Now show. Take them to school for a test run. Show them where they will play and let them try out the jungle gym for a few minutes. Point out the library and then find their classroom. If it’s just a few weeks before school starts and teachers are already working, it’s appropriate to stop in and say hello and introduce your student and yourself. It is not appropriate to spend time asking detailed questions. Teachers have very little paid time to get their classrooms ready, and there is a lot to do! Save those questions for Back to School Night!

Before the big day arrives, don’t forget to go school shopping. Take your child with you. Let him pick out his backpack, lunchbox, or pencil case. He’ll be carrying it everyday, so it should be one he likes.

Lots of books that talk about the first day of school. So start reading! Here are a few to consider:

  • First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg and Judith Dufour Love
  • The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing and Julie Durrell
  • Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate

The night before school begins, help your child get her backpack together. Then let your soon-to-be kindergartener pick out what she wants to wear. As hard as it may be for you, hold your tongue. Let her choose what makes her comfortable. The first day of school is hard enough – uncomfortable clothes make it that much harder.

Pull out one of your books for a final read. Give your child a big hug. And remind them how exciting a day they’ll have tomorrow.