School is where our children learn and develop themselves.
Studies have shown that through a child’s life, they spend more time in school than at home. They learn educational skills but also life skills that’ll be a part of their growth process. Needless to say, school is very important.
A new session is daunting and intimidating for children at any age.
We are humans and change is difficult for us. It’s hard enough for adults to adapt to change, but children don’t really like change. It is difficult for them because their little brains are still in the developing stages.
They’ve probably been home all summer or if it’s a kid that has never been in school and suddenly things are changing. You have to accurately prepare them, let them know what to expect and put their mind at ease.
If this is your little one’s first time in school, separation anxiety might set in. For the first few days, they may be overwhelmed and overstimulated by the different faces, sounds, colors, etc. It’s a whole new world for them. All these would seem unfamiliar to them and make them cranky.
The best you can do as a parent is to properly prepare them for this huge milestone and hope their transition is smooth and easy.
Here are a few ways you can prepare your precious little child for the first day of school.
Prepare Your Little One
If this is the first time your child would be going to school, you need to mentally, physically, emotionally and developmentally prepare them. Start mentioning school to them months ahead so it’s ingrained in their subconscious. Constantly say ‘You will be going to school soon’. Show them videos and pictures of different school environments. If they are watching a cartoon or show, highlight the school scenes.
Let them know what to expect and casually mention that you will not be there with them. If it’s an older kid that has been in school before, let them know they’ll be in a new class with a new teacher. Prepare them for any changes they might experience.
Exude positivity and be sure to mention how fun school is, how they’ll make new friends and the fun things they’re set to learn. Make sure to be as positive as ever. Children are sensitive and they can feel your energy if you’re pensive or actually excited.
Talk to Them
No matter how little or old they are, have a conversation with your child. Encourage them to express their feelings and share what’s on their mind regarding the new school session. Ask them what they are afraid of and what they are excited about.
You can also start a conversation about school by reading books about the first day of school. Amazon is crawling with different colorful options that will keep them interested.
You may also want to talk to them about bullying, sharing, opening up to the other and other interpersonal skills in relation to the other children in the school.
Help Them Get Familiar
Familiarity makes it easier for them to adjust to the new environment they will be spending most of their time.
Here are a few ways to help them get familiar with the coming school session.
- Visit the classroom:
When you go touring the school or attending some parents’ conference, you might even want to take them along with you. This will help your child get a little more familiar with the location. If it’s a new school or this is your child’s first time at school, this is very important to keep them at ease. Everybody gets anxious and frightened in a new location.
- Get acquainted with the teacher:
It might be a good idea to meet the teacher beforehand and maybe invite him/her to dinner with the family. This is not a form of bribery as you don’t expect her to play favorites and you’re not asking for favors. You’re only trying to make the transition into the school session easier for your child. Be sure to consciously highlight that fact.
- Organize playdates:
To familiarize your children with the school and its environment, you can organize play dates for them. It’s easier if they make friends with children in their class before school resumes than while school is in session.
Involve them in Preparation
Let them be a part of the preparation process for the school session.
Go school shopping with them. School is more fun when you have your favorite cartoon character on your backpack or lunch box. To the best of your ability, let your children choose their school supplies. It will help their mental state while in school. It will also boost their confidence and self-esteem.
Do a Test-Run
Pretend it’s school day and let your children wake up at the exact time they do for school and prepare like they’re going to school. Let them get dressed and prepare like school is beginning. If they’re on time and they get ready accurately, drive out of the house like you normally would on a school day and reward them with treats. Teach them to be self reliant, use their alarm and get ready for school.
This makes it easier in the first day of school because there’s been a lot of practice before hand. During the test run, go through each step of the school preparation morning routine with them. For the little kids, teach them how to dress up, lay their beds, pack their books and how to undress when they get home from school.
Start Making Adjustments
Make adjustments a few weeks before. If you allowed your kids stay up an extra hour or a few minutes during the holidays, you might want to start making adjustments like it’s a school night. The gradual adjustments will ease them into school season. The change should be gradual and not abrupt.
Failure to do this can cause discomfort for the children, mess up their sleep pattern and total schedule. It’ll also affect their first few days in school because they may not be as alert as ever due to insufficient sleep.
Design a new schedule for the school season. Adjust their bedtime, bath time You should also start adjusting their meals to accommodate more fruits and vegetables that improve alertness and brain function. This is the time to start cutting back on sugary snacks, fizzy drinks and video games.
Pay special attention to their meals. For the first few days of school, pack your child’s favorite meal, snacks and make them look colorful and interesting. Make sure their meal looks like it does at home. You don’t want them dealing with culture shock via their meals and eventually starving themselves. You can also make them feel loved by putting a surprise letter telling them how much you love them in their lunch box.
Be as Present as Possible
Sign up to volunteer during the session. If they see that you’re involved in the school and it’s process, they’ll most likely feel less nervous about the school environment. It’ll give them some form of peace and stability when they see you once in a while. This can also help separation anxiety.
For the first few days, pack a stuffed animal or blanket that helps them feel safe.
If you as a parent as not ready for the first day of school, chances are your child would not be ready as well. So, here are a few ways to organize yourself before school resumes:
- PaperworkIt is advised that you fill and send out any paperwork some weeks before resumption. Filling forms last minute will most likely make you anxious and forgetful.
- Get all they need ready weeks before. Do all you can to avoid last minute shopping. It will only leave you frazzled and you will most likely forget some items.
- Create a strict schedule for the family and stick to it.
- Make your decision about pick up and drop offs with your spouse. You don’t want to create a confusing situation where either one of you assumes the other got the kids. If the children would be taking the bus, remember to sign them up and get the bus route and schedule.
- Take note of all the activities in the school year. Mark the ones you’re directly involved with, the ones you’re volunteering for and the ones you are just attending.
- Create a meal plan for the children’s breakfast and takeaway lunch. Stock up on the supplies you would need for their meals before school resumes.
- Decide which activities your child would participate in. Sports and other extracurricular activities.
- Be ready for some waterworks at drop off. Your little one might cry and you might cry too. It’s difficult but keep drop off fast. The continuous hugs and smooches makes it harder for both of you.
It may seem difficult at first, but children eventually adjust to their routine and the school environment. Just know that it’s good for them and that’s their first step into interacting with others.
We acknowledge that it’s not only difficult for the children when school begins, it’s just as demanding on the parents as well but mostly that mothers. We just want to tell you that you can do this. The trick is to plan and prepare early. Take a deep breath and knock this school session out of the park. We’re rooting for you.