8 Tips to Prepare for Your Child’s First Year of School

The first year of school! How?!? I feel like he just started walking yesterday…

The emotional rollercoaster doesn’t stop after you select a school - it continues as you plan for the first day. Here are our top strategies to help you prepare for this memorable milestone:

1. Get the details

Find out what the school will and will not provide so you can create your shopping list accordingly. I remember we made a big deal about buying the matching (and monogrammed) Cars backpack, lunchbox and water bottle only to find out that my son’s school issues clear backpacks and provides all drinks and snacks. Make sure to also get the 411 on the dress code.

2. Refresh your child’s closet and dresser

A cluttered closet and dresser are huge sources of frustration (and total time thieves!) for parents and children. Schedule time to declutter and tidy your child’s closet and dresser before the first day. We suggest adding picture labels to drawers so it’s easy for your child to know in which drawer to find his/her undergarments, shirts, pants, etc. This will not only encourage independence and the development of good organizational skills - it will save you time in the morning and evening.

3. Create a “Daily Drawer”

Organize daily essentials, like a toothbrush, toothpaste, comb/brush, gel, and hair ties. in a shallow bathroom drawer that is easy for your child to access. Having all of these items in one place will save you time and hassle.

4. Use a checklist

Similar to the picture labels, a visual checklist outlining what your child has to do before heading out the door (i.e., help make bed, put dirty clothes away, eat breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth, and comb hair) is a great tool to set expectations and establish routine.

5. Create a drop zone

Just like at school, add a hook and a basket by the front door or in a coat closet so that when your child comes home, they have a place to neatly stash their gear.

6. Adjust your nighttime routine

Make lunch, pick an outfit, and pack the backpack and put it by the door each night before school. The more you prepare and plan the night before, the less you have to worry about in the morning.

7. Plan for paper

There will be forms and LOTS of artwork. Without a plan, it will quickly accumulate on all your flats surfaces. Read 4 Simple Steps for Eliminating Paper Clutter and The Foolproof Way to Organize Your Kids’ Artwork for easy and helpful tips on how to manage both.

8. Build 5 minutes of “talk time” into your morning routine

Even if your child is an up-for-anything adventurer, the transition to school can be tough. Many children require extra attention and support during this time. I found that when I took five minutes with my son to snuggle, talk, and reconnect first thing in the morning that his anxiety started to go down. Three years into school and we still do this. It helps us both ease into the morning instead of starting the day on a frazzled note. I also love that even if the rest of the morning (or day for that matter!) doesn’t go as planned, at least we had those few minutes.