What to Expect on
The First Day of School

Whether your child is just starting kindergarten or getting ready to embark on a journey through his last day of fifth grade, heading in for the first day of the year is always met with excitement and a substantial dose of anticipation about what to expect. Even if familiar faces from years before will be seated at the desks, there are still new teachers to meet, new hallways to navigate and new skills to master, and that all can leave even the most unruffled student (and parent) wondering about how to make the inaugural day of the school year a smooth one. If you and your child are wondering what to expect on the first day of school, read through this helpful primer from Pottery Barn Kids.

What to Expect on The First Day of School


As far as milestones go, this is a huge one for you and your child, and it marks a definite turning point in your routines for the next 14 years or so. When you arrive at class with your excited kindergartener and his first backpack in tow, you’ll likely get a chance to meet the teacher and other parents and snap a few photos of the kids getting to know each other. The teacher may have them start an initial project while parents head off on their way, and after that the group will get a chance to introduce themselves. The kids should also get a rundown of the classroom rules and procedures and their new schedule, and they may have some opportunities to do icebreaker-type activities punctuated by a worksheet or two. Back at home, you can expect your child to be pretty tuckered out after this big day, so be sure to provide a nutritious dinner followed by an early bedtime.

First and second grades

These are definite transition years, and your child will likely be exposed to first days that are more demanding of his academic skills. They’re also the first years that the classes are more organized with actual desks and distinct classroom areas centered around scholarly pursuits like math and reading instead of different types of play. Expect these first days to include introductions but also a fair share of worksheets and perhaps some assessments of your child’s skill levels, particularly when it comes to reading and writing. Instead of eating as a group in the homeroom, the kids also might head to the cafeteria to dine with the older grades, so be sure to pack an encouraging note in your kid’s lunch bag.

Third through fifth grades

By this point, your child will see plenty of familiar faces when he opens the classroom door on the first day and may look forward to reuniting with friends. The group might start going to different classrooms during the day to visit teachers who specialize in different subjects during these years, so they’ll meet their various instructors on the first day and have a run-through of what this new schedule entails. At this point, you might also expect your child to arrive back at the end of the day with some homework tucked away in his backpack. It’s likely that a lot of school supplies will be required, so it's important for you to help your child prepare for the big day with a binder along with all the incidentals, such as pens, pencils, erasers and other tools, to encourage organization skills. Preparation is key during these last years of elementary school, so be sure you’re sending your little scholar into the world with everything required to succeed.