Updated: Jan 25
Written By: Erin Montgomery
Although it may seem like just yesterday that your little bundle of joy was born, they are now four years old and it’s time to send them off to Junior Kindergarten (JK). As parents you are probably thinking, how can your child be ready yet still be so small? Or perhaps you are not ready to let them out into this big world on their own. That anxious feeling you feel, we all have it, we have all felt it and will continue to feel it as we reach each new milestone. But you have prepared your child for this day over the last four years, with every playdate, overnight sleepover with their grandparents, and their first day at daycare. Kindergarten is an exciting time for children and you will be amazed at how well your child will adapt.
While you may have spent the last couple weeks getting your child ready for school by taking them shopping for new clothes and a backpack, taking them for a haircut or letting them pick our their favourite snacks for their lunch. There are a few things you can do to help emotionally prepare not only yourself but your child as well.
In order to focus on being emotionally prepared for the big day it helps to be physically prepared meaning getting all the necessary to do tasks out of the way. Some of these tasks include making sure all forms the school sent out earlier have been filled out. Do you have all the supplies they need? What is your child wearing the first day? If taking a bus, make sure all pick up and drop off arrangements have been made, etc. Once those fundamental to-do’s have been checked off you are organized and prepared, which will take loads of stress off of you the few days leading into JK. A great tip while gathering all the must have’s is to also include your child. Let them come with you to buy their first back pack & lunch box.
Some interactive ways to get you and your child feeling more emotionally prepared is to include talk of ‘big boy school or big girl school’ into your daily talks. If your child shows signs of anxiety when bringing up school then start slow, but if your child gets excited then talk about the first day often! You can mention simple things like “mommy & daddy are excited to pack your lunches in your new lunch box!” or “I wonder what kind of games & toys you will play with outside for recess?”
Did you miss the orientation at your child’s school? During these orientations, usually the students can see their classroom, meet their teacher and just walk the hallways to get a feel for what school will be like. This is a great way to introduce JK to kids. But if you couldn’t attend that orientation, use these last few days of summer to head over to the school, play on the playgrounds, walk around the entire school, look through windows, show where you will be dropping them off and picking them up. Make it a fun game and adventure of discovering the new grounds. Doing this helps and is even suggested to do the day before JK.
If your little one did not attend daycare prior to JK and you have reservations about their social capability and shyness around other kids, if you haven’t already, arrange to spend time with other moms and their kids. You can see if there is a specific Facebook group in your community designated to your school and add yourself. Don’t be shy to post a playdate suggestion or a meet and greet with some of the other first time JK moms.
Perhaps your child is a social butterfly so making friends won’t be a fear but in the last 4+ years you haven’t left them alone with a grandparent, baby sitter, etc. and you aren’t sure how they will react without you there or you simply don’t feel comfortable leaving your child. Arrange to have your child looked after, even if for short periods. If it’s difficult for them and yourself, try a few short periods of times until you both feel more comfortable.
I, myself, have two little boys heading off to their first day of JK on Tuesday and using some of these tips has helped take a little stress of this big transition. The key thing to remember is that this is a positive change. Always keep a positive attitude and be ready to cheer your little one on if they have moments of being scared. The first day of JK, wake up extra early so you’re not rushing and be excited! Remember that they are in a safe environment and you are only a phone call away if need be.
You both may not know it or feel it right then and there but deep down you and your child are so ready to take on this exciting new chapter of JK!