Child waving goodbye on her first day of school

The time has come to start preparing your kids for a first-day-of-school routine. Although this time, it can be a bit more challenging since we’re slowly adjusting to the “new normal.” Learn how to make this transition easy for them and mold a healthy, smart kid with heart by practicing these handy tips.

If your child is about to start preschool, you might be feeling conflicted despite it being a major milestone. You’re excited because your child will gain more knowledge about the world around him/her. At the age of three to five, expect language and literacy milestones1. Simultaneously, you may also feel anxious as to whether he/she is truly prepared for school. These emotions are normal. Chances are, your kid feels the same way.

Given the difficult situation we’re in, distance learning has become the new norm. This change can be uncomfortable and scary. As a parent, it’s your job to ensure that your child will be able to navigate these challenges all while still being eager to learn. Whether through online classes or if schools reopen, here’s how you can support and prepare your child on his/her first day of school.

Have an open and honest conversation
Even if you haven’t discussed it yet, your child may know something big is happening. Children are naturally curious and observant2. For example, your child may notice you being at home all day, especially if you’re a working parent. He might ask why people are wearing masks or why he/she needs to wash his/her hands more than usual. Your child needs to understand the situation so that they can cope better. Encourage him/her to ask questions and express their thoughts freely. Even at a tender age, inculcate the idea that all feelings, big or small, are valid3. Ask, if needed. Some children are hesitant to open up so make sure to create an environment that is safe and comforting.

During discussion, provide them with the simplest explanation so as not to overwhelm them. It may increase their anxiety or fear. Stories, drawings, and even role-playing can help open up the conversation. Use everyday situations like hand-washing and taking a bath to reinforce the importance of observing proper hygiene, especially now.

Reinforce academic readiness
Before your child’s first day of school, he/she should have at least basic knowledge about themselves and their surroundings. Through play and interactions with people in the house, you can build your child’s skills to be further enhanced by his teachers. Read to your child and discuss with him/her the story and how he/she felt afterwards. This can prompt him/her to ask questions and spark his/her curiosity and imagination. Moreover, books can help him/her identify colors, shapes, and even recognize names. Enhance his/her creativity by letting him/her color and paint. Teach him/her the alphabet and counting numbers through music. The list is absolutely endless.

Set up a learning space
If your child can’t go to school for now, why not bring the school to your home. Designate an area to be the “classroom”. It’s important that this space be conducive for studying and as much as possible, be devoid of distractions. Set up a makeshift board where he/she can write or draw. Opt to fill up the space with other learning materials. These can include puzzles, building blocks, art supplies, and books.

Set healthy sleeping schedule
To help your child stay focused and alert during school, make sure he/she gets enough sleep. Set a sleeping schedule wherein he/she gets to bed early enough and wakes up just in time. Pre-schoolers need at least 11 to 12 hours of sleep, including a nap during the day4. Bedtime difficulties could arise since we’ve been in quarantine long enough that your child might probably think it’s still summer vacation. It helps if you impose this schedule weeks before the first day of school to make the transition gradual and not jarring. Before bedtime, remove unnecessary diversions like TV, toys, and other gadgets.

Establish a routine
If your child will have to settle for online learning for now, plan the day as if he/she is physically going to school. For example, you can prepare his lunch and snacks beforehand. This can motivate him to go about his/her first day of school. Following a schedule can provide a sense of normalcy and calm, even in a time like this5. Have a list of subjects and activities for the day, as well as break times in between. Don’t forget to keep things interesting either. Switch up some activities for a day so your child won’t get bored. It helps if you and your child plan this together, not just a means to bond but also help stay attuned to his/her needs.

While there are still uncertainties as to what the school year will hold, it pays to make efforts to ensure that this milestone can still be enjoyed by your child. Know what steps are being taken by your child’s school to keep students engaged and active amid the pandemic. By doing so, you’ll be able to help your child ease into this school year.

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References:

1 8 Tips to Prepare for the First Days of School (n.d.). Retrieved Aug 30, 2020 from https://www.scholastic.com/parents/school-success/school-life/back-to-school/8-tips-to-prepare-first-days-school.html?eml=SSO%2Faff%2F20180319%2F96525%2Ftxtl%2FGenericLink%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F&affiliate_id=96525&clickId=3256728843
2 6 Reasons Why Preschool Is Good for Your Child (2016). Retrieved Aug 31, 2020 from https://novakdjokovicfoundation.org/6-reasons-why-preschool-is-good-for-your-child/
3 5 Tips to Prepare Kids for Pandemic Back to School (2020). Retrieved Aug 30, 2020 from https://www.avera.org/app/files/public/77807/Tips-for-Pandemic-Back-to-School.pdf
4 Sleep and Your Preschooler (n.d.). Retrieved Aug 30, 2020 from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/sleep-preschool.html#:~:text=Preschoolers%20need%20about%2011%20to,habits%20for%20getting%20to%20sleep
Helping Children Cope With Changes Resulting From COVID-19 (2020). Retrieved Aug 31, 2020 from https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/school-climate-safety-and-crisis/health-crisis-resources/helping-children-cope-with-changes-resulting-from-covid-19