Tips for first-time parents sending their kids off to kindergarten

Parents are encouraged to teach their kids certain skills before starting kindergarten.
Updated: Aug. 23, 2023 at 5:00 AM EDT
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PENDER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - For some parents it’s just that time of year again, sending your kid off to school.

But for others, it’s their first-time saying goodbye. A kindergarten teacher shared tips on what parents should expect and how to prepare before that first day in the classroom.

The start of a new school year is a mix of excitement and nerves, especially for parents and their kids starting school for the first time. Elizabeth Hardwick teaches kindergarten in Pender County at C.F. Pope Elementary School, and she reminds parents that when it comes to those emotional goodbyes, remember you are the role model.

“They’re going to kind of mimic the way that you are. So, if you come in and you’re really upset and you’re lingering in the classroom they’re going to continue to get more and more upset versus if you come in and you’re like, you can do it and you’re going to have a great day,” said Hardwick.

She says that her focus is on academics, which is easier to do if the children already have fine motor skills. That means practicing certain things at home before the first day of class.

“Try to make sure your student knows how to hold a pencil and use scissors. Have they chosen a dominant hand yet? And even things like can they zip and unzip their bookbag independently, or open snacks,” said Hardwick.

Another preparation task is making sure your child ready for any type of accident.

“Send a change of clothes in their bookbag, whether that stays here at school, in their cubby, or whether that stays in their bookbag and just goes back and forth. Making sure that they’ve got extra clothes because accidents happen, but spills happen to. Also mud on the playground and all kinds of things,” said Hardwick.

She says consider your teacher, yourself and your child as a team. Working together throughout the school year both at home and in the classroom will ensure success.

“The biggest thing is making sure that you’re keeping in touch with the teacher, making sure that you know what we’re learning in the classroom, which will be communicated to you. And reinforcing that at home. Whether that looks like reading with your child every night, or reinforcing some math facts or some vocabulary words, we really work as a team. Us and the parents and guardians of the kids,” said Hardwick.

Brunswick County schools are also updating the platform they use to communicate with parents so that it’s more user friendly and easily accessible. Hardwick told me it’s similar to Microsoft Teams where the parent and teacher can talk directly through the app.