The first day of school is often a nerve-racking time for parents and young children alike. Little ones are embarking on a brand new milestone in their educational journey, and parents have to come to terms with their baby growing up. It can be tough on the whole household, but there are steps parents can take to help ease the transition.
Children need to feel confident and prepared going into their first day of school. Simple adjustments to their routines at home leading up to the big day can help the whole family feel better about the change.
Primrose Schools provides the following 10 tips to help reduce your child’s first-day jitters:
- Read about the first day with your child. It is often the anticipation of the unknown that makes children anxious about going to a new school or classroom. Reading about it gives children an opportunity to imagine their own experience and express their fears. The following books can help your little one prepare for how they might feel when school starts:
- “When Mommy and Daddy Go to Work“ by Joanna Cole
- “First Day“ by Joan Rankin
- “The Kissing Hand“ by Audrey Penn
- "Don’t Go“ by Jane Breskin Zalben
- Prepare your child for longer periods of separation in increments. Before leaving your child at school for the first day, have her stay with a grandparent or a babysitter for increasingly longer periods of time. This time away will help her build trust that you will always return.
- Tour the school with your child. Visit the classroom your child will be in, meet the teacher and tour the playground so the places and faces he will see on the first day will feel familiar and safe. Afterward, talk about what you both saw and how fun the different activities looked. Refer to the teacher by name to help your child think of him or her as a person you know and trust. Reinforce the idea of school being a safe place to learn and play.
- Set the stage. Talk to your child about the first day of school and help her visualize what the day’s activities are likely to be. “On Monday when you go to school, you will see your friends, play on the swings and read stories. Ms. Smith will be there to help you. It will be a great day! And Mommy or Daddy will be there to take you home when school is over for the day.”
- Shop for school supplies. Most children love shopping for school supplies. Give your child the opportunity to pick out a few items he likes (within reason, of course) to provide a sense of ownership and responsibility in the decision-making process.
- Establish a daily routine that fits your family’s school-year schedule and try to stick to it. Don’t wait until school begins to start implementing your weekday morning routine. Begin activities at the same time every day starting least two weeks before the first day of school.
- Nighttime routines are important, too. The whole family can help make the morning of the first day (and every school day) easier by taking care of tasks the night before. Try making it a habit to pack book bags, complete homework and pick out the next day’s clothes in the evening to avoid morning mayhem.
- Get your rest. Read a bedtime story early enough in the evening for your child to get a good night’s sleep. Many morning issues can be avoided if everyone is well rested and ready to begin the day!
- Say a quick goodbye and promise to come back. When dropping your child off at school on the first day, give a quick hug and kiss, cheerfully say goodbye, and promise to return later. When you linger, you undermine your child’s confidence that you feel good about where you are leaving her.
- Establish a partnership with your child’s teacher. Children look to their parents’ behavior for emotional cues. The more comfortable you are with your child’s teacher, themore comfortable your child will be. Over the first few weeks of school, regularly touch base with your child’s tacher about how he is adjusting. The more visible you can make the connection between home and school, the more secure your child will feel.