The first day of kindergarten is a momentous occasion that is bound to invite a whole flood of emotions for you — and your child. Special activities before and after the first day will ease their first day jitters, and foster a positive outlook on the upcoming year.
These activities will help your child see kindergarten as a rewarding new phase of life, rather than a scary separation. You can also help your child embrace the transition by reading sweet tales that get kids excited for kindergarten together.
1. Make a ‘Me Mural’
Doing this project together will help strengthen your child's sense of self. On an oversized piece of paper, create a collage using photos or magazines of their strengths, interests, favorite things, friends and family, home, or pets.
2. Offer Ownership
As you are shopping for school supplies, let your child pick out the colors and styles they want. You can also customize backpacks, notebooks, and other supplies at home with craft materials.
3. Create a Launch Pad
Find a corner in your house for your child's shoes, backpack, and lunch bag. Laminate a favorite drawing, and place it on the floor for a fun and reassuring jumping-off point. Having this launch pad will make it easier for your child to remember all their essentials (and cut down on morning chaos).
4. Have a Dress Rehearsal
The first day doesn't have to be a big surprise. Pretend you're their new teacher by introducing yourself, going over the weather, reading a story, and making art projects. This practice run will help your child know what to expect so they’ll head into the first day of kindergarten with confidence.
5. Build Confidence With Books
Read stories about school or other new adventures. Referring to a favorite character's bravery may help your child pinpoint anxieties and spark their own courage in an unfamiliar situation. These books about confidence will teach kids to believe in themselves and build their self-esteem.
6. Envision the Future With a Customized Calendar
Whether your school district mails out academic calendars or you buy your own, personalize it by adding special stickers to mark important holidays, birthdays, and other school year events.
7. Boost Your Child’s Name Recognition With Playful Artwork
Names will be an important lesson on the first day as kids meet their new classmates. Write a poem or make an illustration with your child’s name to place on their bedroom door — and build their confidence in a room full of new faces. The more comfortable they are giving out their name, the better they can use it to get to know their peers.
8. Make an ‘About Me’ Booklet
Introduce your child to their teacher with an “About Me” booklet. To make the booklet, just fold a piece of paper in half, or into thirds. This is the perfect opportunity for kids to reflect on what makes them unique and what they are excited to learn in the year ahead!
9. Draw a Home-to-School Map
Sketch out the route to school. You can include photos and illustrations of landmarks. If there are stores or parks along the way, visit them! This deepens your child's understanding of the connection between home and school.
10. Keep Confidence High With Photo Mementos
Take pictures of your kindergarten kickoff activities to help your child remember this milestone. Stage a photoshoot with your child's favorite clothes, friends, school supplies, artwork, and toys to spark reflection, in the near and far future, on how far they have come and the support they have at home. And of course, don’t forget to take a photo of your child on the first day of school!