Getting Through the First Month of First Grade

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My eldest started first grade just about a month ago. It was a very monumental (not to mention emotional) event in our household. Many things changed because of first grade – wake up time, morning routines, our afternoons together, etc. We had to get used to so many new things like checking backpacks, reviewing homework, reviewing schedules (and classes), and preparing lunch to name a few.

The first month of first grade actually began a week before school started (atleast for me it did), when we went back to school shopping. Other than buying a new (big) backpack suddenly we had binders, folders, pencils, erasers, glues, scissors and all these other supplies to buy. It brought me back years ago when I went back to school shopping with my dad. I just couldn’t believe I was now doing the same with my son!

Few days after it was time for the first day of school. We sat the alarm for 6:45 AM (6:45 AM!!!), got everything ready ahead of time – clothes, water bottle, school bag – but as the alarm went off I opened my eyes and suddenly remembered – LUNCH!! We forgot to get the lunchbox and lunch ready! I kept thinking if I couldn’t get everything needed for the first day right – what’s the rest of the school year going to look like!?!?

As I was getting the sandwich/fruit/snack ready for my son that morning, I couldn’t help but get emotional. It wasn’t only that he himself was going to school, it was also the fact that it was ME who suddenly had a first grader. There is something about kids in preschools and kindergartens that has a little less of an affect on your “adulthood”. Suddenly, as I sat there making him his favorite cream cheese sandwich, I couldn’t help but feel a little “older” and a little more responsible than I have ever felt since becoming a mom.

And off to school we went…

So just a few weeks in first grade and we have; one lateness, one missed homework assignment, and mostly successful lunches :). Following are my notes for surviving the first month of first grade:

  1. Get EVERYTHING ready the day before (lunchbox, bag, and clothes). Don’t forget a water bottle if they are allowed to take.
  2. Wake up 10/15 minutes before your kids to get everything ready (breakfast, lunchbox in bag, etc).
  3. Have some coffee/small breakfast during this “quiet time” before waking them up.
  4. Wake them up at least 40 minutes before you have to leave for school – it’s enough time to have them get up, get ready and have a good breakfast without things being rushed.
  5. Check for homework first thing when you get home.
  6. Before bed review the next day schedule and get whatever is needed ready – text books, notebooks, etc.
  7. If there are other special needs – like certain clothing on physical education days, objects to bring for show and tell, etc – get those ready before hand as well.
  8. Ask your child specific questions about school (and not the general – how was school today?). It’s extremely important to get any information possible from him/her, as early as possible. How are his classmates, did he meet anyone new, what kind of “games” does the teacher play with them, is there anyone or anything bothering him in class, does he like where he is sitting, etc.
  9. Make sure they are eating a good lunch! It’s a long day for them – and they need to eat well. It is not worth packing the healthiest lunch if they are not going to eat it. Make sure to pack them whatever you both agree on. At the end of the day – you want them to eat well and make it through the day, even if you are not fully satisfied with all their choices!
  10. Give them their space. As much as we want to know EVERYTHING possible about their day, as much as you want to make sure they are ok, they also need their space. If they come home and want to watch TV, or play with their Legos/tablets/games, or simply just need their quiet time on the couch or in their room, let them have it. First grade is such a big change for them that sometimes they just need time to take it all in. It’s our job to find the right time and balance to ask the right questions and to check how they are doing.
  11. SHOWER THEM WITH LOVE! My son is not big on hugs and kisses, but I noticed he needed those extra hugs the first few days after coming home. Hug them, kiss them – whatever you feel they need. They will most probably be looking for some extra TLC those first few days of first grade!

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