Tips for starting Kindergarten

Starting school or kindergarten is a rite of passage for both the parents and the child.  

With only a week  to go until the new school term starts, what to expect and how to be prepared can be a daunting experience for new school parents.  

Eastern Suburbs Mums founder Natalie,  shares her tips for mums and kids embarking on the school journey as her eldest starts year 6 this year, kindy seems a long time ago so i am feeling for all the new mums and new kindy kids this year

For me the moment she tried on the uniform I felt the lump in my throat. I had convinced myself I would be ok but the emotions came flooding in, where had my little squishy baby who would fall asleep on my chest gone?

There she was 51/2 years old trying on her uniform with a beaming smile, no longer a toddler no longer a baby and entering a new chapter in her life.

Of all the parenting moments in the journey so far this is a big one, especially with your first born, I will expect it might not be such a big deal with the second child but it’s a reality many of us get emotional about as our children embark on such a significant part of their life.

So emotions aside here are my tips on managing your first child’s first year at school.

School Uniform

Be warned just like daycare their clothes get trashed. So don’t be afraid to buy some items second hand that are in good condition and others brand new. Buy at least two school tunics (girls) as you will wash regularly, two sport tops, two sport bottoms and one hat.

For girls I shopped at Best and Less which have great basic short style undies, white ankle socks and generic school clothing. The private schools might be stricter on uniform policy but will offer good second hand uniform options so you aren’t wasting money.

Label Everything

As many a school mum learns everything gets lost or misplaced every week. I simply labeled all items with a black permanent laundry marker, because I cannot sew labels on and the iron on labels seemed to peel off easily.

School Shoes

As a responsible first time school parent I was adamant that “you need a good shoe” so off we went to a reputable kids shoe shop got her fitted and spent $120 on lovely black school shoes that I was convinced due to their quality and brand name would last the school year… 4 months they were destroyed…yup…..i went through 3 pairs of school shoes in one year, ending up at Target with a $40 pair as was over the expense of buying new shoes.

Mums of older kids tell me it’s pretty common in kinder for shoe trashing, apparently they get better with shoes as they get older, we hope for the sake of our bank balances!! So just a tip don’t think that $120 pair will last.

School Lunches

Try not to overload their lunchboxes with too much food, keep options healthy and simple. The bento box style lunchboxes are best as you can cut up fruit, vegetables, cheese slices, hummous dips, yoghurt pouches, plain popcorn, with a healthy sandwich or wrap.  They also don’t need a ‘treat’ every day.

Many schools have waste free days so the bento style lunchboxes are perfect for this. You can also get the iced water bottles to keep water cool but there is no need to fill their drink bottles up, it weighs down their bags and there are plenty of water fountains that they are encouraged to refill regularly by teachers.

I found also there is the “I’m too busy playing to eat syndrome” so expect half eaten apples and barely touched sandwiches to come home each night and a starving child at 3.00pm raiding the fridge.  We also do canteen once a week as a treat, most schools have a great selection of healthy lunches such as sushi, hot pasta in winter and salads.

For more lunchbox tips read here

How was your day?

Be prepared for limited feedback when you ask “what did you do today at school?” or “How was school today”.

Keep in mind from their perspective it’s pretty overwhelming for them, many haven’t had a full 5 day week, school is a different level of intensity than daycare so at times they can be preoccupied and need time to settle and download. I found the most important times were at bedtime, sitting in the dark with them and that is when it became a time to express feelings and emotions about school, other kids and what was going on, so try to find time to connect with them.

Depending on your child’s temperament some children find it hard at first whilst others breeze into kindergarten, it’s not a competition. What is important is making them feel heard, supported and not pressured about their first year of school.

Some kids struggle with saying bye to mum or dad so need more support at drop off and it takes longer for them to adjust, but it doesn’t matter many schools have great buddy systems where older primary school children help them in the first months of school to adjust to the school environment, and like most things if you are anxious they will sense this so do your best to feel secure about drop offs and excited about school for them (even though you may worry if they are ok, they usually are ok) and like all of us did will face new challenges because it’s a new chapter in their lives.

So I wish all parents and kids the best as they begin their school journey for the first time, the first year goes super fast and they will get tired and by the end of term they (and you) will really need that school holiday break.

Enjoy the first year and remember kindergarten is not about achievement it’s about introducing them to the joy of learning, the joy of making new friends and making fond memories to look back on.

p.s. have spare tissues day 1 in your handbag