While some kids can’t wait to start school, others are dreading the first day. Feeling anxious or nervous about the new and unknown is totally normal, particularly for first-time students or those starting a new school. Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to help calm your child’s concerns and get them geared up for the first day of school.
1. Talk It Through – Depending on your child’s age, they could be worried about anything from being away from you and coping with mean teachers to finding friends and fitting in. Encourage your kiddo to articulate their fears so that you can discuss each one. Go beyond simple reassurance and role play ways they might respond to and overcome some of their biggest worries. Then shift gears and help your kiddo see some of the positives about school, like making new friends, learning new things, playing, creating music and art, and so much more.
2. Visit the School – In addition to participating in your school’s open house, where your child can tour the classrooms and meet his teachers, take a walk around the school together a day or two before classes start. A real-life run through of the first day goes a long way toward eliminating the unknown. Walk or drive the route your child will take to school, take a peek through the classroom windows, and find the bathrooms, lunch tables, and drinking fountains. Walk to the spot where your child will be picked up from school and talk about who will be there waiting for him. Eliminate as much of the unknown as possible.
3. Set the Scene for Success – Nothing causes stress like rushing, so be sure you leave plenty of time to get ready on the first days of school. Pack your child’s bag and pick out an outfit the night before. Roll back bedtimes and wake times so that your child is well-rested for the first day of school. Leave plenty of time for a calm, quiet, nourishing breakfast together. Then, check off everything your child needs, out loud, before you head out.
4. Stay Calm – Kids pick up on adults’ emotions, so be sure to keep yours in check. Keep your concerns and worries to yourself and focus on the positives. Know that your child is in safe and capable hands and exude excitement and joy about this important milestone in your child’s life.
Most likely, your child is likely going to love going to school. They’ll have a chance to develop social skills and make new friends, acquire the knowledge needed to grow and thrive, learn to manage successes and failures, and take the first steps toward independence. With a little preparation and a lot of reassurance, you can help make back to school an exciting time for all.