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Ease Kindergarten Jitters:
Be Ready for the First Day of Kindergarten

first day of kindergarten

Although highly anticipated, the first day of kindergarten also can be a nerve-wracking occasion for both parents and kids. Doctors at Texas Children's Hospital say a little planning can go a long way toward calming the jitters and bolstering confidence for youngsters in a new academic setting.

Plan Ahead
Preparation for the big event should begin several weeks before school starts, advises Dr. Jan Drutz, chief of the residents' primary care group clinic at Texas Children's Hospital and professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. "It's a smart idea for your child to have a clinical exam by a pediatrician to be certain there are no physical problems that could interfere with the ability to perform in class," he says. "This exam is also a good time to make sure immunizations are current."

To gently adjust to the upcoming routine, Drutz recommends setting a firm bedtime about two weeks before classes start. "A child should go to bed by 9 or 9:30 p.m.," he says. "Kids need between eight and a half and nine hours of sleep every night in order to be fully rested, better organized, interested in learning and alert enough to function."

Making a Smooth Transition
Because it's normal for youngsters to be apprehensive about entering a different environment, there are measures parents can take to make the transition smoother. "Before the first day of school, decide how your child will be transported to and from campus – whether by bus, carpool or walking," says Dr. Drutz. "Check on schedules. If possible, take your child to campus during the summer before classes start. Walk around the halls together and become familiar with the layout. If time permits, visit more than once."

In addition to the necessary school supplies, the student should have a wardrobe in keeping with the school's dress code. "Clothing is very important for a child's self-esteem," says Dr. Drutz. "Depending on the school or the district, uniforms may be required. On the bright side, uniforms eliminate the stress of what to wear each morning and are a good option for families on tight budgets."

Give Them a Healthy Start
To ensure each day gets off to a healthy start, Dr. Drutz believes breakfast should be encouraged and never skipped. "It's the most essential meal of the day and should give your child the nutrition he or she needs," he says. "Pack a lunch with wholesome foods such as yogurt, fruit, a sandwich on whole grain bread, carrot sticks and juice or milk. Avoid the temptation to include foods that are high in fat and carbohydrates."

Because hygiene and dining are natural partners, it's never too early to teach youngsters about hand washing. "Children transmit diseases – mostly by hand – very easily," says Dr. Drutz. "In particular, kids should know to wash their hands after using the bathroom. If children are eating afterwards, it's vital they understand not to bring germs to the table."

Finally, experts at Texas Children's agree parents should relax and exhibit a positive attitude to set the tone for a productive educational and social experience. Here are 8 tips to help your kindergartener thrive on the first day of school.

  • Take your child to a pediatrician to be certain there are no physical problems that could interfere with the ability to perform in class. The visit is also a good time to be sure immunizations are current.
  • Set a firm bedtime about two weeks before school starts. A child should go to bed by 9 or 9:30 p.m. in order to get between eight and a half and nine hours of sleep each night. A good night's sleep is necessary in order to be fully rested, better organized, interested in learning and alert enough to function.
  • Decide how your youngster will be transported to and from campus. Check on schedules.
  • If possible, take your child to campus during the summer before classes start. Walk around the halls together and become familiar with the layout. If time permits, visit the school more than once.
  • Students should have a wardrobe in keeping with the school's dress code. Uniforms, if offered, eliminate the stress of what to wear each morning and are a good option for families on tight budgets.
  • Foster healthy eating habits. Serve a nutritious breakfast and pack a lunch with wholesome foods. Avoid the temptation to include items that are high in fat and carbohydrates.
  • Teach your child the importance of hand washing. Because kids transmit diseases – mostly by hand – very easily, they should know to wash their hands after using the bathroom. If children are eating afterward, it's vital they understand not to bring germs to the table.
  • Exhibit a positive attitude to set the tone for a productive educational and social experience.
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