How we’re getting ready for kindergarten

28 July 2021

The Instagram story I posted asking for kindergarten prep ideas may have gotten the most responses of any story I’ve ever posted… ever. Y’all wrote in with lots of good ideas, yes (see many of them below!), but way more of you simply wanted me to share the responses I received.

I was so tickled by this kindergarten cohort! And I get it! Heading back to school, whether for the first time or the twelfth, is a big transition. As mamas, we want to prepare our families well for it, emotionally and practically, and to celebrate well, too. The start of a school year gives us so many opportunities to do this, including renewing, refreshing, or beginning family traditions – because for all the time kids spend in school, I firmly believe that the foundation we lay at home matters even more.

Today, I thought I’d share some of the ways we’re preparing for our first kindergartener, as well as back-to-school suggestions from many of you! Some items are particularly unique to our family, but hopefully even those might spark an idea for yours.

Things we’re doing to prepare for kindergarten:

Transition June’s clothes upstairs and begin picking out clothes the night before. As many of you may remember, June’s and Shep’s clothing has been stored in our bedroom. With Annie’s arrival, we moved June’s clothing up to her room and began the practice of laying out her outfits the night before. She thinks this is super grown-up :)
Buy an adult bike. We live in the walk zone for our elementary school, and plan to bike to school most days for pick-up and drop-off. John’s road bike has clip-less pedals and is not ideal for short, casual rides, so we bought him a Priority bike for the days he accompanies her. (June has a Priority bike, too – more on hers here!)
Pull backpack options and order backpack and lunch box. To facilitate choosing a backpack option we both will love for several years, I narrowed down options from State, Pottery Barn, and L.L. Bean. We scrolled through the screenshots together and she chose this one! I gave her free rein over the lunchbox choice and this is the one she chose :)
Buy matching bracelets. As a special back-to-school gift, I ordered a mini monogram bracelet for June and a stack of bracelets representing each family member for me from Pearls & Prosecco. I think they will be a reassuring physical connection on those first few days! It would also be fun to make your own beaded bracelets. (Not just for girls: a mama I know makes friendship bracelets with her boys the night before the first day every year!).
Go on school supplies shopping date. I’m planning to print out the school supplies list from school so June can follow along and plan an afternoon browsing the aisles at Target with my girl. We may also hit up Parker Paper Company for a few fun extras. Our church is collecting supplies for a partner school, so we’ll plan to buy two of everything.
Fill out and return health forms. Simple enough, but still something I need to set aside time to complete!
Play at the school playground. Our school playground is open during the summer, so we’re planning to head over and visit sometime in August. Since our chances to explore inside the school have been limited with COVID, I think this will be a fun way to gain some familiarity!
Choose a scripture theme for the school year. As they head off to school, our desire is for our kids to be grounded in the Gospel. Choosing a short scripture we can all memorize and refer back to throughout the year is a simple way to do this! John and I will choose it together and we’ll debut it at our back-to-school dinner.
Plan back-to-school dinner menu and decorations. Considering the success of our Octonauts premier party, June and I will work on this together. The dinner itself will be held the night before the first day of school! I plan to write about ours after it happens, but if you’re looking for inspiration now, Stephanie and Merrick have made me look forward to these dinners for years!
Choose a first read-aloud book. June and I are just getting into read-aloud books, and I’d like to choose one for first-day-of-school bedtime reading.
Bring lunch to preschool teachers. June’s preschool career will end a week before kindergarten begins. Even though her graduation is not the end of our relationship with their preschool (Shep still attends, and Annie will eventually, hooray!), we wanted to do something to thank them for how absolutely wonderful they have been to her for the last three years. She and I will take the teachers’ orders and deliver lunch one day that week, which I think she will think is the most fun.
Get clear on morning and afternoon transportation plan. We’ll be easing into drop-offs and pick-ups, as I’ll still be on maternity leave and Annie won’t yet be in school, but John and I need to sit down with our schedules and the time boundaries in front of us and make a plan for each day of the week.
Make a rough plan for my schedule. This will shift when I go back to work, but I’d love to wrap my brain around what my days will look like in September and how to make the most of our time together outside of school!
Do a dry run on bikes to school. This will help everyone feel comfortable on the big day, and will help us know how much time we need to budget for little legs to get to school and back.
Choose a first day of school outfit. Very important :)
Mock up the letter board for first-day-of-school photos. We’ll put our scripture theme for the year on the board after the photos are done!
Prep snack tray favorites for first-day-of-school after-school snack. Snack trays have taken a hiatus with pregnancy and summer, but I’m excited to bring them back this fall.
Begin to think about how we might organize school supplies and papers. Not going to make any purchases or decisions until school actually begins, but it’s on my mind!

Like I said, y’all had lots of good ideas about how to start the school year in a sweet way. If nothing we’re planning strikes your fancy, here are a few other ideas!

Fun back-to-school traditions:

— From Jessie: “We always have a ‘kids choose day’ before school starts – usually the park and pizza and ice cream.”

— From Shannon: “We did ice cream before the first day of school always! Even when I started grad school, we got ice cream the night before, ha!” (Others suggested ice cream as a first day after-school treat!)

— From Rachel: “We do a mom or dad and kid date night, a shopping trip for new school clothes, going to the library to pick up some new books, and for my daughter, a trip to get our nails done the weekend before school starts! We also cook their favorite meal the night before. Finally, we tried to find other families who had rising kindergarteners [Em says: try your neighborhood Facebook group] and invited them over for playdates.”

— From Lauren: “The day before school started, the kindergartener and mom would do a ‘practice morning’ that would end with just the two of us getting donuts.”

— From Brittany: “We did a one-on-one overnight trip to a fun place [could just be a local hotel!] with each kid before beginning kindergarten!”

— From Laura: “We prepped his school supplies together! I bought name stickers on Etsy and then spent the evening labeling everything together and talking about the fun things he’d do using the supplies.”

— From Erika: “My husband does a video interview the evening of the first day and asks who his teacher is, whether he has a friend in his class, and something fun he did that day. He’s going into third grade and it’s been fun to go back and watch them together!”

— From K: “We have two traditions: my husband gets our daughters flowers on the first day of school, and we have cider donuts and apple cider for our after school snack.”

— From Kerstin: “We do the German tradition of making a ‘Schultüte’ – a cone made out of construction paper which is decorated and filled with treats and school supplies.”

— From Courtney: “We made a paper chain so our daughter could count down the days to kindergarten! She loved it.”

— From Robyn: “After experiencing some emotions that popped up a few weeks into school (later than I expected!) when our daughter started kindergarten, I’m planning ahead for regular, intentional one-on-one time in the first month or two to support my son as he starts. I’m also preparing myself mentally for behavior shifts that might be coming and reminding myself it’s a temporary adjustment period!”

I hope this post was helpful, friends! Sending hugs to all my fellow mamas sending littles to school soon, whether for the first time or the last :)

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Kelly Strawberry
July 29, 2021 11:38 am

June is going to love all of these plans!! I think your Octonaut premier dinner was one of my all-time favorite posts. I tried to do a similar themed dinner with the release of Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous Season 3 and my son just didn’t have the same level of enthusiasm lol

July 29, 2021 2:56 pm

How fun!! I especially love the scripture for the school year! I might do that, too!!
And thanks for including the „Schultüte“ :-) I just got all the supplies to make one. And my son just changed his mind from shark to Quetzalcoatlus, haha! So, we‘ll see how that turns out, ha!

July 29, 2021 3:27 pm

I don’t have kiddos yet, but my husband and I had a fun talk about these ideas over dinner last night. Thanks so much for always bringing thoughtfulness and intentionality to life events! Celebrating the big things as well as everyday things make life so much more magical. We can’t wait to try to do the same in the future :)