Starting Kindergarten signals big changes ahead for children - and parents. Help your child handle the transition and any prevent rough patches in the days ahead.

Visit the School

Before school begins, take advantage of every opportunity available to attend school orientations, visit the classroom, play at the school playground (if allowed), and meet the teacher to help your child grow familiar with his new learning environment.

Model Optimism

It's natural to feel nervous for your child, but share your excitement instead of your apprehension. Show your back-to-school school spirit by shopping together for a new backpack or lunchbox, school supplies and new clothes.

"Children look to their parents as a guide for how to react to any new situation," says Dr. Holly Schiffrin, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Mary Washington, who specializes in child development and parenting practices. "If the parent is anxious, then the child is going to pick up on that anxiety and be wary of starting school. So...try to be as enthusiastic as possible."

Read About It

Reading nurtures valuable listening skills. And, with a few choice book picks, you can help your child prepare for the kindergarten experience. Check out The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing and Kindergarten Rocks by Katie Davis.

Meet Friends

Before school starts, arrange play dates with future classmates. A few familiar faces on the first day may help calm any fluttering tummy butterflies.

Kindergarten Prep 101

It's helpful if your child knows his colors, ABCs and numbers, but before school starts, make sure he knows his full name, birthday, and phone number. Bonus points if your child knows how to tie his shoes — a skill kindergarten teachers will encourage you to work on with your child throughout the year.

Encourage a Health and Happiness

Make sure your new kindergartener gets plenty of rest and eats nutritious meals, which will help him better manage the stress of the transition and stay focused during school. Wake up a little earlier to avoid a rushed first day.

Touch Base

Share insights about your child's strengths with the teacher to help her understand what motivates and interests your child.

"Parents should approach school with the idea that the teacher has their child's best interest at heart," Schiffrin says. "The parent should convey that they are on the same team as the teacher (even if they have different ideas about how to assist their child)."

Discuss ways you can help your child at home.

Volunteer

Find out how you can help the teacher or other school personnel. Your participation helps illustrate to your child that school is an important extension of his home life.

Accept a Bad Day

Every child is bound to have a rough day. Encourage your child to resolve her own problems and take responsibility for her actions.

"Ask your child for her input and perspective, genuinely listen, acknowledge and empathize, and then shift the focus towards reaching solutions as a family and in unison with your teachers and school," says parent coach Tom Limbert, author of Dad's Playbook: Wisdom for Fathers from the Greatest Coaches of All Time. "Focus on giving your child the tools, morals and lessons she will need when not in your presence, which will now be more and more often."

Celebrate!

And, once you've made it through the stress and emotions of that first big day, "plan something special after school," Schiffrin says, whose daughter starts kindergarten this year. After all, you both deserve a memorable way to cap off a special first day.