First grade back to school preparations are somehow more loaded than any other year. Kindergarten was a huge transition, but it was generally a half-day, and it felt a lot like play. And in later years, you and your kids will have done it all before.
But first grade is the first time your kids enter real school. It's a big deal.
First off, there are practical considerations. Which back to school supplies will your child need in first grade? What time will everyone need to get up in the morning to get to school on time? Where will you pick up your child from school?
Each little detail adds its own bit of stress, so leave plenty of time to help your child adjust to the changes. Start enforcing an earlier bedtime at least a week before school starts to get used to earlier wake-up times. Take a trip to your child's school when it is empty of kids; walk around, play on the playground, and show your child where you will come to get her each day.
Each child will react differently to the transition to first grade. Back to school shopping can do wonders for making school more exciting. A Sponge Bob pencil box or a new school outfit are special treats that make the hard changes a bit easier.
Special back to school rituals can also help your child feel excited about first grade. In our neighborhood, our parents took a first-day-of-school picture on the front lawn, every year we were in school. We came to look forward to this rite of passage that meant we had officially moved up into the next grade.
Some children will have a hard time separating from mom or dad for an entire day. Have calm, honest conversations about how your child is feeling, but balance these out with happy stories about what he will be able to do in first grade.
Sometimes it's the parent who is having trouble letting go. Remember, this is a big change for you, too. If your child picks up on your anxiety, simply say something like, “Yes, I will miss you during the day! But you learn and do so many great things at school, and you can tell me all about it when you get home.”
First grade back to school preparations can be stressful, but they can also be a lot of fun. Giving yourself and your child plenty of time to adjust to changes will set you both at ease and make starting first grade a lot more enjoyable.