Ah, the first day of school—such a pained mix of dread and exhilaration, disappointment and promise. It’s also a time for bronzed, freckled little faces to start frowning and pouting and begging to be spared those awkward opening day moments.
Relax — there is a way around the jitters.
Read on for tips on preparing your child for the first day of school:
- Get back to basics. Re-establish a good routine for a week or two before school begins. Turn in early for the night and awaken earlier and earlier each morning. Encourage daily baths, read each night before bed and eat meals at regular intervals—as you would when school is in session.
- Buy supplies. Let your kids be a part of the shopping process. Kids are big on ownership and feel great when they’ve had a hand in selecting their binders, pencils and lunch boxes.
- Get organized. Children are comforted by the order and routine of things. Establish a quiet area in your home for study and reading. Make a spot for posting school bulletins, cafeteria menus and newsletters. Hang up hooks in the laundry room for the kids to hang backpacks and hats.
- Get smart. Pull out those flashcards and start re-introducing, re-teaching and re-visiting important skills and concepts. Spend a few hours in the public library pouring over books. For older children, read the newspaper together and discuss current events that happen locally, nationally and around the world. Returning to the classroom with a refreshed set of skills and confidence can make all the difference!
- Set the tone. Be positive and encouraging in all of your discussions. Remind your child that you are certain of his “friend-making” abilities and that you are confident of his academic abilities.
- Keep it low-key. Spending a thrilling, exhaustive day at Disneyland the day before school starts is probably not the best idea. It’s important to send a student who is rested and relaxed. Spend the weekend engaging in low-key activities such as getting haircuts, barbecuing or renting movies.
- Take a tour. Alleviate any fears or anxieties your child may have by walking the halls of the school a few days ahead of time. Find his classroom and peek in the windows. You might even catch the teacher for a brief hello. For younger children, consider “playing school” at home. Let your youngster feel in charge by acting the part of the teacher.
- Be firm. Resist the tendency join your student if he spirals downward into tearful complaints. Don’t fight, don’t scold or scoff. Stay calm and focused and when that first day comes, give a hug and a kiss and walk away.
Above all, be positive! Keep your conversations light and hopeful, continually affirming your belief that your child’s experience at school will be a good one.
Kerri S. Mabee can be reached at email@example.com. Follow me on Twitter @kerrimabee.