What to Expect in Your Child’s First Year of School
Are you sending your child to their first year of school? Are you unsure? Are you terrified? School is a big deal, and there will be changes, but here are some tips that will help you navigate it and have a successful first year.
When I was a young mom, I was terrified when my daughter went to school for the first time. Will they keep her safe? Will she have fun? Will she be scared? Will she be smart enough? Will she be too smart? There wasn’t a what-if that I didn’t think of. I was a wreck.
Safety is number one in your child’s first year of school
Through the years of raising her to an adult and helping raise tons of other kids who have left me to go onto school, I have learned quite a bit about school. There is no way to be 100% sure that every child in a big ole school will be safe, but I will tell you that the school does try and they do a good job.
Schools are set up with child safety in mind. They do care very much if your child is safe. It’s their number one priority. Give them some trust and let them do their jobs.
Kids make friends in their first year of school
Your child will find at least a few students that they gel with. If your child has a hard time making friends, you’ll be surprised that in most cases, they will buddy up with at least one other youngster. I was TERRIFIED to not have someone to play with in school. It was one of my biggest fears for my daughter. She never had a large group of friends, but she always had a few good quality friends and still does. I was always more of a one on one kid too, even though now I have quite a few friends. I just relaxed as I got older. There is hope for every child to make friends. People WILL like them.
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Kids have struggles in their first year of school
Kids will have things that are challenging. It’s okay, that’s how they learn. The best thing you can do to prepare them is help them develop as many skills in self-care as you can. This will give them the self-esteem they need to try things that are hard for them.
Not helping my daughter be independent is one of my biggest regrets. I always thought that a good mommy would take care of her child’s dishes and help them with every little thing. When she got to school, she dropped her lunch tray in the cafeteria, she couldn’t get her jacket on by herself, and she struggled to catch up on those things. Guess what? She DID catch up and she was just fine.
I help my daycare kids be as independent as I can. I let them carry their plates to the trash and dump them and put them in the dishwasher just like they will be doing at school someday. Do I have more food on my floor than in the trash? YES! Is it worth it to help them learn? Heck yes! Of course, it’s much easier to do things for your child than to take the time to teach them. You’re already good at it. Teaching them to do it is teaching them skills for the future.
Kids will learn a ton their first year of school
That first year of school is so crazy with learning. Kids are absorbing information like a sponge. It’s so amazing to watch. They are learning letters, numbers, motor skills, self-help skills, songs, rhymes, and a million other things. You’ll be amazed at how much your child learns their first year of school. Are you afraid your child is going to be behind? Are you afraid they will be ahead? It’s all okay, kids will learn so much either way.
The first year of school is a great equalizer. Every child won’t be the same, but that first year brings them all closer together. Even if you have a super smarty on your hands, there are still things they will learn at school that are different than what they have been learning about at home. There will still be plenty for them to figure out during the first year of school.
Kids will have lots of fun their first year of school
The playground is fun, the learning is fun, there are fun toys at school and there are friends. While you cry yourself all the way to work in the morning because it was hard to leave them and they looked unsure, the teacher has helped your child transition into having a wonderful day. Even if it takes them a few days or a few weeks to adjust to going every day, they will get there and they will learn to love school.
Once they learn the routine at school, your child will find comfort in school things like they do at home or daycare or wherever they went before their first year of school. Then they will begin to enjoy their time there and have fun. Just give them some time to bond and they’ll be okay.
You child will surprise you in their first year of school
You’re going to be amazed at many things. Some will be good and some will be not as great. School changes kids. Many of the other little youngsters have older siblings so they bring lots of knowledge to school that is sometimes great, but not always. Your child will become more independent and even though that’s wonderful, it kind of hurts a little.
During the first year of school, your child will grow in stature, knowledge, and understanding of a lot more things. They are going to make you SOOOO proud. They are going to be so cute. They are going to do things well. You are going to be amazed.
So, what does your child need to know BEFORE they go to their first year of school?
They need to learn to go potty by themselves and guess what? Wipe themselves. The kids use the bathroom independently, the teachers don’t go with them to wipe them. Can you imagine what could happen if they don’t already know how. I don’t want to. Although it seems unbelievable, they need to do it, so take the plunge and start teaching them. They also need to be able to zip up and snap their pants.
Before their first year of school, your child needs to be able to put their jacket on and off and fasten it, get their own shoes on and secure them, carry their own food, open their own containers such as juice boxes, milk cartons, and other containers, carry their own backpack and anything else we are doing for them now. The teacher can’t carry 25 backpacks, the kids HAVE to carry their own.
Before their first year of school, your child needs to be able to take care of their own stuff. They need to have practice remembering to keep up with their backpack, shoes, toys, etc. Once they get to school, they need to already be in the routine and mindset of keeping up with their belongings. They are going to lose a million things, I promise, but practice beforehand can help cut down on that.
Before their first year of school make sure your child can be confident without a special toy
If they have a blankie, a lovie, a stuffed animal, they need to learn to spend time without it too. Most schools allow them to have it in their backpack, but not carry it around. While it’s comforting to know it’s in there, some earlier practice would help a lot in a more peaceful transition. We want to make it as easy as possible for them to adjust.
Children NEED social skills before their first year of school
This is THE NUMBER ONE most important thing kids need for school success. Study after study have shown it’s the best indicator of how well they will do. Click here to read more about it.
If you are a stay at home parent, you can still help your child develop these skills by taking them to play places, parks, story times at the library, the church nursery or any other place there are other kids. Make this a priority to take them to play with other kids.
If you are a working parent, make sure building social skills is a top priority at your childcare home or center. At Little Sprouts, we work on this more than anything else because I have done a lot of research and I know it’s more important than anything else. We work on empathy, sharing, taking turns, being kind, helping others, and so much more. I know the time I invest in this for my kids is the most valuable time I spend.
If you see your child interacting with other children and it doesn’t look like they are fitting in well or getting along, take a few minutes to guide them a little bit and turn them in the right direction. They will build on that learning from there and build skills to make their first year of school and those that come after a great success!
What do parents need to do for the first year of school for their child?
Talk about the first year of school with your child. Be casual and don’t talk about it too much because that can be overwhelming, but do prepare them and help them understand it’s coming and what to expect.
Label everything they own. Like I said before, they will lose a ton of stuff. Having their name written on it can help it be returned to them. Get a lot of sharpies and have at it.
Your child needs you to be an advocate for them at school. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to step in and offer your support to the teacher and your child if a problem comes up. If your child is upset about something, make sure to mention it. Do it in a kind way and you will become a friend to the teacher while helping your child. I promise, your child’s teacher cares about them or they wouldn’t be doing that job. They won’t get mad if you ask them for help.
Be involved in the school. If there are things you can donate, donate what you can. If the teacher asks for volunteers, try to help out. If there is a fun night, take your child and have fun with them. Participate and your child’s experience will be even richer.
Remember that school wears you out. Especially your first year of school. It’s hard to be good all day. It’s hard to not be in your comfy pjs and house all day. They will be worn out, especially as they adjust at first. Don’t overschedule them with a ton of activities so they will have time to unwind too.
It’s hard to let them go and that’s okay. It’s normal to feel sad and overwhelmed that they are going to school. It’s scary. But it’s going to be okay. Give yourself a break about being emotional about it. You’re their whole world and they are yours. You’re going to be emotional.
You can do this! It’s hard, but you are going to rock being a school aged child’s parent. When you feel overwhelmed by some part of your child’s first year of school, just take some deep breaths. Trust your child, trust the school, trust the teacher, it’s going to be okay.
Take lots of pics, the time goes by so fast. You’re going to look up and the first year will be over. Then you’ll blink and they’ll be graduating. I know it sounds impossible, but it’s true, it will happen. Take it all in as much as you can. Be in the now. Do whatever you can to preserve the memories.
Be organized with your school things. This isn’t just for the first year of school, but all years of school. Have a place to store backpacks and make sure to look through them every night. There are important things in there that you’ll need to know and keep up with. Get your child’s clothes ready the night before and their lunch if they are taking their own. This will help the morning be smoother and more peaceful.
Remember if you are a first-time school parent, there are lots of days school is out. Be prepared with back up care if you have to be at work. This can be tough to juggle, so knowing about it in advance will help you navigate the difficulty of it. Maybe grandma would love to hang out with little Suzie on those days or maybe you have a friend who is a stay at home parent that would be willing to let her hang out occasionally. The summers can be particularly challenging. Check your area for some cool kid’s camps they can go to.
The first year of school for your child can be an overwhelming idea, but remember, your child can do this. You can do this. You are going to have a great year. Take care of problems as they come, be organized with your supplies, and believe in your school and your student and you’re going to help them rock this first year of school!
Want to get some great inspiration for some more back to school ideas? Check these out:
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