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2 minutes reading time (398 words)

Easing the Back-to-School Transition for Preschool Siblings

by Kathryn Lagden

My 6-year-old left the safety of the “kindie pen” and walked into grade 1 with confidence and ease. Back- to-school transition handled. But it wasn’t quite so easy for my feisty two-and-a-half-year-old who is desperate to go to school with his “big bruvva.”

I’m scrambling to pull together a few ideas to help him adjust and feel included in the back-to-school excitement over the next couple of weeks. Here’s what I’m thinking:

Pack a backpack: Part of our morning routine is getting everyone’s bag packed with all the necessary gear for the day. I’ve found a small backpack for my little guy and created a spot for it in the front hall. When everyone else is packing up, we’ll ask him to put his snack and hat inside. He can carry it when we drop off his brother after, to wherever he’s spending the day (daycare, Grandma, Nana).

Label stuff: I’ve never met a 2-year-old who doesn’t like stickers. It’s easy-peasy to get out the tape and markers and let him label his gear (and likely various pieces of furniture and body parts).

Close the school day: My school kid is pretty proud of his “agenda” that has to be signed each night. It’s still early days (only about a week in), but he carefully places it on the counter when he gets home. Daycare is only part-time, but to include my younger son I think we’ll start keeping the slips of paper they fill out detailing what he ate and when he napped so he can put them with the agenda.

Try a name change: Instead of “school” and “daycare,” we’ve started talking about “grade school” and “daycare school.” It seems almost too simplistic, but I tried it out this morning and my 2-year-old beamed.

I’m thrilled with how easily my school kid started 1st grade, but I’m quickly realizing some of the time and attention I put on helping him transition would have been better spent preparing my preschooler. Hopefully these quick hit ideas will help him along now, and also encourage his own independence which can only help when it’s *finally* time for him to enter the schoolyard.

Any other ideas or experience? I'd love to hear them.

Kathryn Lagden is vice president, digital strategy at School Family Media, SchoolFamily.com's parent company. She lives in the greater Toronto area with her family.

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