Getting ready for a child’s first time and first day of school can be nerve-wracking, not only for the child but also for the parent. Those butterflies and stomach jitters are ever-present for kids at any age when it comes to the first day at school, especially for those getting ready to go to school for the first time. Kids often start school in kindergarten at the age of five, although some kids begin schooling as early as four years old. By this time, kids have already acquired basic communication skills in speech and language. These honed skills are typically the result of interaction between the kids and their parents or peers. Jo Ann Gramlich’s Talk, Play, and Read with Me Mommy is an excellent book that guides infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with their language development. In fact, the book is a good material to use to help kids prepare to go to school for the first time. 



Ready for School Life?



One of the most important occasions in a child’s life is getting ready for their first day and first time at school. There is that separation anxiety that hounds both the parent and the kid, not to mention those crying episodes and expected tantrums. Often, it seems like there are a lot of hurdles to overcome just to take those small steps out of the door, into a school bus, and into the school’s entrance door. 



For a child to feel anxious about taking those steps is normal. Facing something unknown and out of their comfort zone that they knew of is enough to rattle anyone and shake their confidence a bit. A child’s uncertainty stems from being unsure of what to expect from their teacher, the kind of teacher they will be having, and the kind of school environment they will be immersed in. 



Meeting and gaining new friends is also another scare factor. Who are their classmates? What will they be like? Will they share any likes or dislikes? Are they going to play with them? For parents and educators alike, how to assuage the kids’ fear of the unknown is a challenge that is also unique to each child. But, of course, there are also a lot of kids who are excited and very much looking forward to donning on a school-ready attitude. They look forward to meeting new people, making friends, sitting in class, and are very much eager to dive into a new environment.



Schooling for kids of all ages should be a positive experience. That positive experience should start at the time of preparing the child for school, from setting their mood and expectation, to getting their school bags and other items ready as well. There are ways to overcome that monster anxiety mood. Below are some valuable tips to get the child equipped and prepared for that rollercoaster experience of first-day, first-time at school. 



Explore the school and the classroom before school starts



One way to get the child school-ready is to get to know the school first before it opens, preferably before the enrollment period. This will allow both the child and the parent to see the look and feel of the school environment before they’d decide to enroll there. This is also a chance for the child to find out what the classrooms, the other school building and facilities, and the playground looks like. Touring the school will help alleviate the child’s fear of the unknown of what school is all about. It’s also an opportunity for parents and their kids to bond. 



Setting the proper mood and expectation



Kids listen to their parents and their parents’ opinion on what to expect from a school and from going to school. So if a parent described going to school as something fun and good, then the kid would certainly develop the expectation that going to school is fun and good. Parents should allot some time with their kids by telling them the upside of going to school to set the right mood and expectations. Since it’s the child’s first time in formal education, and the aim is to get a good experience from their first day, parents should focus on gearing up their child emotionally. Some of the best ways to do that are to tell their kids that it’s normal to feel anxious to calm their fear and let their kids feel that they will always be there for them. 



Getting the kids language-ready



Another way to get the kids ready for school is to ensure that they are prepared and comfortable when communicating. This means getting ready their language skills. Although being hesitant, shy, and most of the time keeping quiet is typical for first-time young schoolers, still, it would be best that they are ready to interact or socialize and communicate with their teachers and their classmates. Start with the fundamentals of yes and no when answering. Before school starts, parents should at least have taught their kids the basic questions and answers, primary words and objects, and even the basic shapes and colors. Interacting and playing in the neighborhood community with other children of the same age is also another way to hone their social skills to get them ready to make friends with their classmates by the time school starts. 





Getting ready for school need not be a stressful experience. It is, after all, a once-in-a-lifetime experience and opportunity and something that could never be taken back or lived through again. Parents and educators should work together to ensure that a child’s first time at school is a positive and memorable experience. How a child turns out as an adult someday and how they become ready for their adult life also depends upon that one thing: getting them ready for school life.


Jo Ann Gramlich is an award-winning author and speech-language pathologist specializing in helping children with communication disorders in Buffalo, New York. She holds a Master of Science degree in Speech-Language Pathology from SUNY Buffalo and has extensive experience in early intervention, preschool, and school settings. Visit her on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.

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