On The First Day of Kindergarten, Don't Forget To...

Eliza Clark
August 14, 2014

It will be here before you know it: the first day of school. How did our babbling babies get to be kids who can tote backpacks across school doorsteps?

If the idea of your darling starting elementary school has left you feeling disoriented, like you're in a crazy time warp where infants morph into schoolchildren before your very eyes, we are right there with you. We get it. That's why we put this list together. So that in the midst of your disbelief and nostalgia and (let's not forget) glee at the prospect of at a half a day sans offspring, you wouldn't forget to...

1. Act as calm and cheerful and confident as you want your child to feel.

2. Use a sharpie to write your child's name on the label of her jacket or sweater.

3. Get some lovely personalized labels at Mabel's Labels for all of the other things your child is liable to misplace at school during the year.

4. Steel yourself for a tearful goodbye or no goodbye at all (some children don't even give their parents a backward glance!).

5. Meet some of the other parents—soon enough you'll be calling them for playdates and planning class parties together.

6. Look the teachers in the eye and thank them in advance for all they'll be doing for your little one this year.

7. Listen to the teachers and respect their ground rules: if they say not to bring toys from home, don't; if they indicate that it's time for the parents to go, go! And so on. This helps your child learn that, in the classroom, the teachers are in charge.

8. Get there on the early side so that you have plenty of time to take in the scene and say goodbye.

9. Pack some "comfort food" (your child's favorite lunch) today.

10. Resist the impulse to bring your camera into the classroom—neither the teachers nor the children need the distraction on their first day together. Instead, take a picture outside the school before you go in, or save the photo shoot for another day (there are plenty ahead!).

11. Be right on time for pick-up today. Don't give your child even a moment to wonder, where's my daddy or mommy?

12. Plan a special after-school treat for this first big day—your little one deserves it (and so do you)!

From the Parents

  • Parent # 1

    These many advices are pretty helpful when us as caregivers need a freshen up thank you for all you'r many comforting and supportive words of advice. 1

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 2

    Gearing up for preschool starting in Oct. I'm nervous especially because my daughter clings to me and screams around strangers. I've been reading comments and I'm still not feeling that confident. Help!

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 3

    Be sure to check with your school regarding their policy on outside food. Tip #9 may not be permitted by many schools that provide meals.

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 4

    Thanks for the great advice everyone! I had to put my son in daycare earlier this year because my mom was having a knee replacement and would be unable to care for him due to the surgery and PT, so I went through the teary-eyed phase and the crying at the door for at least two months. I am happy to report that Christian is now loving daycare and sometimes can't wait to get there in the morning to see "my friends." I am confident that he'll transition well to preschool come September. One thing that worked for me earlier this year is reminding Christian of The Wonder Pets episode about the baby blowfish's first day of preschool and how "mommy always comes back." He would repeat "mommy always comes back" like a mantra and it helped him separate from me easier. Good luck to all the savvy mommies here with your precious babies this new school year!

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 5

    For parents of new preschoolers, I highly recommend having a "First Day Buddy" -- that is, someone you can call (by plan) right after you've dropped off your child, to whom you can babble on about how hard it was (for you!) and who will greet your tears with support and understanding. Meeting up with a good friend or family member for coffee would be even better, but even a phone call can work wonders. Just like we do with our children when they are distressed: distract yourself! :) And be prepared to do this again when they go to Kindergarten, and High School, and (gulp) COLLEGE!! :)

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 6

    Thank you for the tips! It's been a month and my son is finally getting into the routine of preschool. --tanyetta.com

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 7

    Today was my first day. I explained to him over and over again during the ride what his day would look like - arrive, play, learn, eat rice and ham, cheese and grapes, go potty, then pick up by the nanny then the park. Explaining repeatedly what was going to happen calmed his fears. He was ready and happy to enter the classroom when we arrived.

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 8

    The same thing happened to me - my little girl fit right in and didn't look back to say good-bye. My son was distracted by the "new" toys in the room. I slipped out and turned into a mess. So far, I have to say being involved with the school has made the most difference. I signed up to volunteer and talked to other parents on the way out the door. Also, knowing what they're doing when [circle time, snack time, gym. etc.] - has been very comforting. When I started to miss my son because I tripped over his blocks, I looked at my watch and said, "he's having apple juice right now - I bet he's lovin' that..." and so forth. Good luck!

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 9

    Great tips. Thanks.

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 10

    Just got back from dropping off my daughter. She was fine with drop-off - I was the one who was distraught. Can't believe my little baby is growing up so fast. Good ideas on how to help my daughter weather the transition. Any ones for me as a parent? Sigh.

    over a year ago

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