5 Things Children Need on the First Day of School


The first day of school is both an exciting and stressful moment for children and parents. Choosing an outfit, planning lunches for the week, and figuring out the bus stop are all concerns. For the parents, many thoughts revolve around whether or not they believe their child is really ready for this new adventure.

Operation Warm believes that preparing a child for their first day can be thrilling and fun. Children who start on the first day of school with a solid foundation will have a much easier time adjusting. Here are 5 things children need on their first day of school. They may be the most important of all.

School Supplies on the First Day of School

The first thing every child needs on the first day is proper supplies. Without the right tools, a child could quickly fall behind his or her fellow peers. For some parents, this upcoming school year won’t be their first. However, for those sending their children to school for the first time, deciding which supplies to buy can be overwhelming.

Many kindergarten or pre-school classes have lists at orientations that are held over the summer. In most cases, younger students won’t need writing utensils or notebooks as they are usually supplied by the school or teacher. Backpacks, lunches (be aware of any allergies in the class), a change of clothes, and sometimes tissues are required for children in pre-school or kindergarten.

TIP: If your local school doesn’t supply a list of items, ask a parent in the neighborhood with children in higher grades what they packed. Their experiences will help you decide what’s more important and what can stay at home.

Self-Confidence on the First Day of School

In order to face the school year, children need confidence in themselves.

Children with low self-esteem are less likely to act independently and make friends on the first day. When children have low self-esteem they are also more easily persuaded by peer pressure, feel less respected, and are more ashamed when they make a mistake. Other complications like bad grades, anxiety and stress, and a loss of interest, stem from low self-esteem.

There are many ways to encourage a child’s self-confidence. Positive reinforcements, being a good role model, and allowing your children to make mistakes are a few. Operation Warm gives children the gift of self-esteem by giving them brand new winter coats. With a new outfit and the happiness of warmth, a child can walk through the doors of school more confident than ever.

TIP: Allow your child to figure things out on their own. Parents who are quick to aid their children in activities can sabotage their opportunities gain confidence in their own abilities.

Support on the First Day of School

Leaving the home for the first time can be overwhelming for a child. Separation anxiety is a commonality among beginner students, but it can also be felt by older ones. It is important to let children know that there is always someone there for them. When your child knows that there is a support system of caring adults in place, the first few days won’t be as stressful.

One way to prepare a new student for the first day is by introducing him or her to how school will work. Establishing wake-up, lunch, and play time will help your child get into the groove of how school will work. Schedule a visit with the school to show your child the classroom as well as his or her teacher so that they are able to establish a relationship prior to the first day. To ease your child’s and your own worries after drop-off, say goodbye. Lingering or sneaking out can reinforce to your child that pre-school or kindergarten is a bad place.

TIP: Remind your child that you will be there to pick him or her up at school or the bus stop. Knowing that you aren’t dropping him or her off forever can wash away a child’s worries.

Understanding on the First Day of School

Besides sharing, children should know how to interact with their peers. Scheduling play dates over the summer with other children entering your child’s class is a good way for your child to find familiar faces on the first day. Talking, listening and eye contact are all important things to teach a child before their first day.

Children need to be considerate of other people’s feelings. Aish.com says that you should, “give your children opportunities to cultivate compassion.” Teach them to befriend the new kid in school, or encourage them to get involved in kindness clubs or even start a fundraiser to give children in need brand new coats.

TIP: Babycenter.com recommends labeling feelings. “Your kindergartner will be able to understand and manage her emotions much better if she can recognize her feelings. So put a name to her behavior as often as you can.”

Basic Skills on the First Day of School

An understanding of how to act in the classroom can greatly impact the transition into school. Skills such as raising his or her hand, following directions, and asking to go to the bathroom are important for a child to know.

Children should began practicing writing their name before stepping onto the school bus and should have a grasp of how letters look and sound. Some experts even say it’s smart to start practicing numbers and shapes.

By the time school begins children should know their address and phone number. An address can be memorized through repetition while one expert suggests plugging a phone number into a song.

TIP: One fun way to teach a child how to listen to directions is by playing Simon Says.


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