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Back to School: Nervous about the first day of kindergarten? Six tips to get parents and kids ready

Posted August 23
Updated August 25

Staggered entry for rising kindergartners across the Triangle begins next week. It arrives with a lot of mixed feelings.

Parents are excited about this big step, thankful to stop the day care or preschool payments and sad that their little ones are getting so big.

Rising kindergartners may be excited, but it's also totally normal for them to be a little (or a lot) nervous, too.

Here are six tips to help parents and kids get ready for the big day.

Wake them up, keep them up

My kids dropped their naps when they were two, but many preschoolers are still taking a daily nap. And, at most schools, naps aren't part of the school day. If you haven't already, skip the nap and try the best you can to get them on the school schedule. If they're sleeping until 7:30 a.m., but will need to wake up at 7 a.m. to be ready to get on the bus, start waking them up now at 7 a.m. so the earlier morning isn't such a shock to their system. Now also is a great time to get back on that bedtime routine. Remember: Kids ages 5 to 10 need about 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night.

Go play at the playground

Instead of heading to your neighborhood playground, hit up your child's school playground instead. And play with them. Have a blast on the slide. Push them on the swings. Help them across the monkey bars. Make some great memories with your child on the playground so, when they're at school, maybe a little nervous, they have those fun memories to fall back on.

Make new friends

Maybe you know some kids who will be headed to kindergarten with your child. Maybe your friends know some families headed there as well. Reach out to them. Set up some playdates - maybe at the school playground. Do what you can to help ensure that not every face is an unfamiliar one for your child.

Open milk cartons

And any other containers or packages that your kids might need to open for school lunches. Make sure they can open items on their own or repack items in packages that they are able to handle. Teachers will be able to help them. But I've helped during lots of kindergarten lunches and there are many kids who need help. Give the teacher a hand and pack items your child can actually open.

Read some books

There are so many great first day of school pictures books out there. I shared six great books for rising kindergartens a few years ago. Check some out from the library or head to a book store. Be ready to read them over and over again.

Don't cry

You can cry to your significant other or your friends that your baby is all grown up and leaving you. But, in front of your child? Stop it. Be strong. And plaster a smile and excitement on your face. Do you want your child heading into kindergarten, thinking that you can't stand the idea of him leaving you? Or, do you want your smiling face to be the last thing she sees as she heads into her new classroom, feeling excited because you are so proud that she's making this big step?

You got this!

Sarah is the mom of two and Go Ask Mom's editor.

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