Many of us have children that are going back to school or will be in the near future. Because the first day of school can present many feelings of excitement, anticipation, and even anxiety. Here are some tips to help you and your child have a smooth first day of school.
1. Realize that the first day of school really starts the day before. Hopefully you have been getting your child into a routine already that will transition smoothly into the school year. If not today's the day! Wake your child up early and keep them busy throughout the day. Make sure they don't have a lot of sugary foods or beverages since this can increase their moodiness and anxiety. Go over any paperwork from the school, pack backpacks, and lay out their clothes for the next day. Finally make sure you get them to bed early, your child will need a good nights rest.
2. Wake up early on the first day so there is plenty of time to get ready, have a good breakfast, and make it to school in plenty of time. Rushing your child will add to the stress of the day so make sure you start it off right with early stretches and time to spare.
3. Write a note or draw a picture encouraging your child on their first day of school. They can keep this in their backpack. Knowing that you are proud of them and want them to work hard will help give them the motivation they need to make it through the first day. Don't have time to write a note even a small signal like a hand-squeeze, high 5, or wink before you leave will go a long way.
4. If you know that your child struggles with change or has anxiety let them pack a special toy or stuffed animal. Remind your child that it needs to stay in their backpack; but many times just knowing they have a special friend with them, will keep those anxious bugs away and help them to be brave.
5. Make sure you have packed lunch or sent lunch money. You want to take stress off your child and teacher. Let them know where everything is located in their backpack so they can have a stress-free day.
6. If your child's teacher sent home a schedule or has one posted in the classroom go over a few of the daily activities. This will help your child know what to expect and the order of things. Any small amount of knowledge will help your child feel in control of their environment.
7. Talk with teachers, the office staff, other school personnel, and other parents. This is your child's community for the next several years and your child will be benefited by you being a part of the community. This also helps you bond and feel more comfortable sending your child to school.
8. Take pictures at home before school and in the classroom if there is an opportunity. Often times in the busy schedule you forget about pictures or there is not an opportunity for pictures. So make sure you get some at home for your peace of mind. Then if your child cooperates, there is an opportunity, and it works with the teacher take pictures at school so you can preserve those precious memories.
9. Show your child where the bathroom is located. This often gets forgotten but can be a big panic moment when your child needs the restroom. Also, pack extra clothes if needed for any accidents.
10. Label everything! Kids leave things behind in the classroom, lunchroom, recess, etc. They also get mixed up with other students belongings and you end up replacing things all year. Save yourself a headache and some money by labeling your students backpack, coat, lunchbox, etc.
11. Don't stay too long. Help your child put their stuff away and get started on the first activity and then leave with a quick hug and I'll pick you up at the end of the day. Make sure you let your child know you will be picking them up so they are reassured one more time that they are safe. If someone different will be picking them up let them know. Children respond better when they have the knowledge of what is going to happen in their day.
12. Be brave and happy yourself! Your child might cry but it's okay. It does not mean you are abandoning your child and most often your child will get over those sad feelings faster by you leaving rather than staying. Make sure that you stay positive, reassure him (using the suggestions above), and then walk away. Wait until you get out to the car before you show any tears. This is hard for you but much harder on your young child who does not have the maturity yet.
The first day of school can be daunting with mixed emotions felt by both parents and children but follow these tips above and you will ensure that you and your child have a great first day of school!