For more than 300,000 Chicago kids, today kicks off the first day of the school year. But for thousands of kindergarteners, today marks the first day of school—ever.
And while parents can do their best to soothe first-week fears, there’s another group who can offer more current expertise on the subject.
They’re the veterans. The big kids. The first and second graders.
WBEZ recently hit the playground to consult with a few of these sages. They go to Dewey Elementary in Evanston where they started school last month.
Here’s a collection of their tips for newbies on a variety of important topics.
How do you make friends when you don’t know anyone at the school?
“Join them in some games or you can include them or sit next to them so they can feel included.”—Julian Pomeran
“You say, ‘Hello, nice to meet you. What’s your name, do you want to play with me?’ You should never exclude them out or they won’t really feel comfortable going to the school.”—Anna Vincent
“It’s really simple to make a friend because you can start playing with someone—not necessarily ask them—and you can just start playing with them, and then you will finally become friends.” —Amir Aguilar
What should you eat for lunch?
“Bring your own lunch because sometimes on the first day you don’t really know what the food tastes like.”—Christina Hunt-Baiocchi
“You can’t share food because your parents want to know that what they packed for you is what you’re eating. So don’t ask someone to give you their food—even if it’s something you really, really like.”—Anya Gill
“If someone doesn’t have a lunch, you could encourage them to have a hot lunch.” —Ty Needos
“Normally your family should pack it since hot lunch is a little bit unhealthy. It has more sugar in it. And you should always bring some fruit with it.” —Florencia Baskin
“If you really like something that somebody next to you in the cafeteria has just don’t ask them for it, because you might be allergic to it, and you don’t know.” —Isabella Franconeri
How do you do kindergarten homework?
“You shouldn’t be scared because if you don’t know some stuff, you can get your mom and dad to help you.” Caroline Emrich
“Well, if it’s math homework, they could use a number grid or use their fingers. And if it’s reading they could sound it out.” —Sam Kalil
“Since you’re in school you don’t have to worry about that because they’re gonna teach you about that.” Christina Hunt-Baiocchi
How do you get ready for school on time?
“You should have an alarm clock or maybe your parents can wake you up for school.” —Caroline Emrich
“Just put on the clothes the mom gives you.” —Markiana Jackson
“Eat breakfast and like maybe if you have a little bit of time you can watch cartoons if your mom lets you—or dad.” —Harriet Collins
What do you do if you miss your mom and dad?
“If you miss your mom and dad you can bring a picture of them and put it on your table so you don’t miss them so much.” —Lukas Linder
“Make a necklace that has a picture of your mom so that whenever you miss her you look at it.” —Harriet Collins
“They should just get a friend and play with them so that they can forget about it.”—Florencia Baskin
Any last general tips for a successful kindergarten year?
“Always be caring to everybody and if they didn’t finish their homework, don’t say ‘you didn’t finish your homework on time. You should finish it right now.’ Don’t say that.” —Blaise Bennett
“Always share and be nice to everyone and make sure no one feels left out, and never be mean to someone.” —Willa Cates