Preparing Your Child for Their First Day in School
You’ve been thinking about it all summer. That day, the first day of school, has been looming in the distance for weeks and now it is here! How do you prepare your child for their first day? How can you make this big life transition easier?
Take cues from your child. Some children are nervous about new beginnings. Some, however, can’t wait for the adventure to start. No one knows your child better than you, so pay attention to his or her body language a few days before. If you see signs of anxiety or worry, reassure them, have them talk to older kids, remind them of other new things they’ve faced.
Take advantage of before school events. Most schools host Meet the Teacher nights or Open Houses. Attend as many of these events as you can so that your child can visualize being there. Your child’s teacher fully understands the hesitation that children and families go through on the first day. Allow them to interact with your child. This will go a long way to reduce fears.
Allow your child to have some control over new supplies and clothes. A child will feel more at ease if he or she has control. Have your child voice their opinion, within reason, about what he or she should wear, what backpack to carry or which notebook to buy.
Have a countdown at home. Your child often will take emotional cues from you. If you are happy and excited to be starting something new, they will be too. On your chalkboard or on construction paper, create a countdown and make it part of your daily ritual to mark off another day.
Keep home routines as familiar as possible. You know what you have to do each day to eat, get dressed and get out the door. Make extra effort to be organized and consider rehearsing with a few dry runs a few mornings beforehand. Anything you can do to reduce stress, both yours and your child’s, will make the first days easier.
Have a special breakfast on the first day. It doesn’t have to be much different from what you usually do, but even just a little something to mark the ceremony of a new chapter in your child’s life will be reassuring. Remind them of what is familiar. Your child may already know other children who are attending or know of the teachers from other contexts. Those familiar faces can calm first day jitters.
Don’t let them see you mourn any loss. Let’s be honest; first days of school are just as hard on the parents as they are on the kids. Keep sad, sentimental thoughts to yourself. If your child sees you upset, it may make it harder for them to say good-bye. With enthusiasm, good communication and organization, you and your child can have a successful first day of school, and great first week and a spectacular first year.
About this author: Brianna Kelly writes on a regular basis for Giraffe Montessori. She has over 5 years experience publishing articles on childcare education and parenting.