When your children are just starting Kindergarten, it can be hard to master the drop-off. Here are 10 ways to master Kindergarten drop-off!
by Laura Onstot | Follow her on Twitter @LauraOnstot.
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Kindergarten drop-off can be overwhelming. You and your little one could experience an array of emotions like excitement, tension, anxiety, disorientation, nervousness, or even stress. To help you navigate this next step in the parenting journey, I’ve put together this list of ten steps to master the Kindergarten drop-off. If you implement them, you’ll be off to a great start!
#1 Practice your morning routine before school starts.
Practice your full routine, from setting out an outfit the night before, to getting up at the same time your child will need to get up while in school. This is especially helpful for nailing down your timetable and determining whether you need to wake up earlier or later to make your morning schedule flow.
#2 Plan a play date with the kids who will be in your child’s class.
A week before my daughter started kindergarten, some neighborhood parents coordinated a play date at a local park for all of the kindergarteners. This gave the kids an opportunity to create friendships before the first day of school, have a friendly face in the classroom, and also gave the parents a chance to get to know one another.
#3 Check out some library books about the first day of school.
Reading books together will create space for conversation about any of your child’s fears or questions. Fears become easier to talk about when your child realizes they are not alone in the things they are scared about. It also helps give your child an idea about what the first day of school will look like.
#4 Prep the night before.
Avoid morning rush by determining what your kid will eat for lunch and snack the next day, what they are going to wear, and by making sure their backpack is packed, and water bottle is ready to be filled. This helps eliminate the morning tantrums over incorrect outfits, and the indecision that can come when just waking up.
#5 Find out if your child’s class has any allergies.
Check to see if your child will need to bring a snack each day. If so, ask the teacher if there are any classroom allergens that need to be avoided. Then, brainstorm with your child about snacks that they would like to bring to school. Try to avoid messy snacks, snacks that require a utensil, or snacks that may leave dirty fingers (Cheetos, I’m talking about you!). Pick a snack that has a mix of protein and carbs to try and keep your child’s tummy from grumbling before lunch.
#6 Have your child practice walking to their classroom from wherever they will be dropped off.
Find out what your school’s policy is for drop-off on the first day. During COVID times, we were unable to drop my daughter off at her classroom. We brought her to the gate, and she had to find her classroom on her own. Because of this, we practiced walking to the classroom on kindergarten orientation day until she was able to get there by herself. Even if you are allowed to bring your child to their room on the first day, it is a good skill to practice, and will build your child’s confidence and independence.
#7 Review with your child how they are getting home.
The first day of kindergarten can be kind of baffling, and it is important to make sure your child and his teacher know where he should go at the end of the day. Our daughter had a tag on her backpack provided by her school, detailing where she was going at the end of each day.
#8 Create a secret handshake or hug.
Establishing a routine surrounding when you and your child will be apart can help reduce anxiety. Try creating a secret handshake or a secret code message that can be whispered before you part.
#9 Prep for separation anxiety. What are you going to do if your child cries?
Each kid is different. Some will cry as if the world is ending, and others will run off without a hug or kiss. It can be especially painful when your kid is the one spilling crocodile tears. Make a plan ahead of time on how you will handle tears. Our daughters preschool teacher told us that it is much easier on the kids and parents if the parent leaves as soon as possible. So give a quick hug and kiss, and then leave without looking back.
#10 Plan some form of self-care into your day for after drop off.
After I dropped my daughter off on her first day of kindergarten, I remember thinking to myself that I should cry. But I couldn’t muster any tears. So then I felt guilty for not crying. Just like it is normal for the child to experience a wide range of emotions, it is also normal for the parent to react in different ways. It is helpful, though, to plan some form of self-care for yourself after drop-off. This can be as simple as going for a walk, taking a long shower, or calling up a friend.
Go Get ‘Em!
Kindergarten teacher of 11 years, Regina McGuire, leaves you with this inspiration: “Your kid will be fine. They will be loved, cherished, and respected. Their teacher will keep them safe, happy, and healthy, and instill a love of learning in the process. The goal of parenthood is for your children to flourish independently, and this is a really tough step toward that end goal.”