This year, I am one of many parents with very mixed emotions about the start of the school year because my youngest will be starting kindergarten (sigh…). He’s so excited about going to school that it’s impossible for his enthusiasm not to be contagious. But at the same time, there are those “my baby is all grown up” moments that can just about break my heart. If you are also in this position (or will be someday), there are some things to keep in mind that can help ease the transition for both you and your child.

The more realistic everyone’s expectations are for the start of school, the more likely it is that things will go smoothly. Read books with your rising student about kindergarten. Being able to relate to the experiences of a character in a book can be very helpful. Storytimes at libraries are also great for new kindergarteners. They can help your child practice separation as well as listening and participating with a group of peers.

It can also help to familiarize yourself and your child with the school that they will be attending. Take advantage of “open house” and “meet the teacher” days. Play on the school playground – being comfortable with the play equipment can help to boost confidence prior to school starting, and can potentially be a good way to meet future classmates.

It can also be helpful to look at the school website with your child. Seeing pictures of the school filled with smiling students can help to ease jitters. Looking at pictures of the teachers and staff can also help it all seem not so new on the first few days.

Remember that it’s normal for parents to feel some anxiety when their child takes this big step in starting their elementary school career. It is best, though, not to express these worries to your child. Children definitely pick up on their parents’ feelings. Talk up all of the exciting new adventures that await, but don’t be vocal about any fear or negativity if you are feeling any.

It can also help to establish a morning goodbye ritual that is fun and comforting as you both deal with the newness of separation.

Enjoy this exciting time! I wish you a safe, healthy, and happy school year!