6 tips for a smooth start to kindergarten
My baby is going to kindergarten. He’s a social little guy and I think he’s going to do well, but between you and me and the moms at the playground and the cashier at Superstore and anyone else who will talk to me, I’m a bit nervous.

I’m a firm believer in “well-prepared is half there” so I’ve been doing some research on preparing my boy for the big K. Here are some of the things veteran parents and kindergarten teachers wanted to share:

1) Jackets and shoes: You know that manic fourteen minutes before you leave your house that is a tornado of shoes and jackets, zippers and Velcro straps? Multiple that by 30 times, and you have kindergarten at recess. Have your child practice taking on and off their jacket and shoes so that they are able to do it by themselves.

2) Open season: You don’t want your child humiliated by wet pants at school, so ensure you dress him or her in pants they are able to get off easily. It’s better for everyone if your child can do it themselves! Part two: Ensure your child is comfortable asking to go to the bathroom. At many daycares and preschools, all the kids go together at set times. This isn’t always the case in kindergarten, so if you have a shy child, you may need to encourage him to speak up when they need to go.

3) Whose shoes? School has a way of becoming a black hole of forgetting. Besides labelling everything, you can help by making the things you send to school recognizable to your child. Your plastic containers are more likely to come home if your kid helps pack their snack. They will remember what they brought to school better if they have seen it before. Same goes with mittens, snow pants, scarves, etc. Packing their own backpack will help trigger the memory of what was in there, and that’s a good thing!

4) Open sesame (snacks): Practice opening the food packages you send for snack. Can your child get the plastic off that little juice box straw and cleanly-ish into the tiny foil hole? The teacher wants to help every student, but there are lots of kids in a kindergarten class and opening 27 yogurt tubes isn’t going to happen fast.

5) Don’t load them up: You may want to consider keeping your kindergartener out of extracurricular activities (or limiting them considerably), at least in the first semester. The transition from three mornings a week to every day (especially if it is a full day kindergarten program) can be pretty exhausting. Keeping the rest of their life low key while they make the adjustment can be beneficial to the whole family.

6) Remember to play: A dear friend of mine came to a startling conclusion midway through the year: Playdates had pretty much disappeared from the calendar. “It’s like I thought school was enough friend time.” Certainly spending time with friends happens at school, but it probably isn’t sufficient for your child’s play needs—and they do need play!

Kindergarten is the foundation for your child’s school career, but the import isn’t necessarily academic. Lots of the curriculum is focused on getting comfortable following a routine, cooperating with other children, listening to a teacher. It is the year where there is lots of family involvement and celebrations of milestones. Next year they buckle down a bit, so take advantage now; with a little preparation, you and your child can make the most of this very special year!