Day One of Kindergarten and No Surprises

Getting prepared for any big new event is all about eliminating the element of surprise. That is why soldiers go to boot camp, why athletes practice for months before competition and why actors rehearse nonstop before show day. And it’s what drives parents like you and me to start months, maybe years before your child goes to kindergarten to remove any element of surprise in what will happen that day and so you know your child is prepared in every possible way for that day she walks into kindergarten.

Some of the aspects of that first day are easy to get ready for. You know your child will need new clothes and probably more clothes because he or she will be at school every day. You don’t want your offspring to be embarrassed by having to wear too many older items. So you might buy them the fashionable kindergartner things so that first day is one of fitting in and looking just like the other kids.

School supplies, medical forms, books and backpacks are all standard fare for the first day of school and they always will be. So you will have ample checklists either given to you by the school or from other parents who have gone through this before. And your own child may become quite opinionated about what he or she will need when that first day of school finally gets here. You will want some level of common sense to go into the preparations for kindergarten, particularly when it comes to the spending but at the same time anticipation is part of the fun so you can afford to give in to it a little bit just to make the event one of excitement and joy and not dread.

When the big day comes, you may even have gone through some drills with the family on getting up, getting dressed, showers, breakfast, making the bed, making lunch and when you need to be out the door to be heading toward the school for the first big day. For you as a parent, the more that first morning feels organized and like a well oiled machine, the more you feel like you have removed every element of surprise from the morning.

Of course, it’s always smart to have some flexibility in your ability to respond to crisis. Even with the most well oiled machine and best preparations possible, it’s within the range of possibility something could go wrong. As you move into the final exit for school, keep in mind that there is an emotional element of this moment and your new kindergartner is watching you for how you react to sudden change.

So be prepared to react calmly and maybe with some humor if something goes wrong. Remember, if you are late or, god forbid, your child doesn’t make it at all to that first day, she can still show up on the second day. Kindergarten classes and their teachers and administrators are well acquainted with the jitters and things that happen to parents so don’t panic if something goes wrong. By not freaking out if there is flat tire, a sudden outbreak of nerves related hives or some other “crisis”, you are teaching your child to handle crisis when she is at school and you are not there.

So model flexibility and adaptability. After all, that is what sending your child to kindergarten is all about for your child. And if you show your little one that being prepared is always the right thing to do but being able to handle change is just as important, she will be well trained to take on kindergarten in good form and to go on to much success in first grade, second grade and throughout her academic career.