Chances are if you have kids, they’re starting to talk about going back to school. For some, they’re rejoicing at the thought of seeing friends they haven’t seen all summer long. (Some of you parents might also be rejoicing!) Some kids might also feel a little anxious. Most probably feel a combination of both.
Below are some tips to help you and your family navigate through the first day of school courtesy of Gina Smith, M.Ed., who’s entering into her 20th year teaching kindergarten.
- Together with your child, make a chart with pictures to show the different steps he/she needs to do each morning before school such as: brush teeth, eat breakfast, get dressed, comb hair, make bed, gather school items and backpack, etc. Have a check box for your child to mark off as each task has been completed.
- Make sure you and your child wake up in plenty of time to prepare for school. You don’t want to feel rushed.
- Prepare a special breakfast to celebrate. (Skip the cold cereal and go all out with pancakes, bacon, eggs, etc.)
- Be sure to take first day photos. You may want to start a tradition where you take your child’s photo in the same location on the first day of school each year. Years later, you and your child will enjoy looking back at all of the photos and seeing how your child has grown.
- Discuss plans for drop off and pick up from school with your child. Will your child be riding a school bus, daycare van, walking to and from school, riding in the car with you? Knowing what to expect will help ease your child’s worries.
- Discuss any fears or anxieties your child may be experiencing and be reassuring.
- Arrive to school 10-15 minutes early. You don’t want to be running late on the first day! This way, you and your child will feel relaxed as you enter the classroom.
- Say good-bye to your child. Be firm but friendly about separating. Don’t prolong the goodbye. Staying will only make it harder and your child will sense your apprehension.
- Make a “Welcome Home” banner and hang it across the front door as a surprise for your child.
- Start a tradition: have a big family dinner where each person has an opportunity to talk about their first day adventures. Consider going out to dinner or having a favorite meal chosen by the kids.