The first day of school is filled with great excitement. With the new uniforms ready and the fresh new school supplies all set to be broken into, there is much anticipation! For some children, this also comes with a little bit of anxiety. Being nervous on the first day of school is natural, but there are a few things we can do to ease help them with some of these nerves.
As adults, we tend to have less anxiety when we are prepared. Children are the same way. The first day of school can be filled with many unknowns and lots of uncertainty. This is especially true if your child is starting a new school. Having an organized beginning to the school year and knowing what to expect can make the difference between a few healthy nerves and full-fledged fear and anxiety.
Firstly, start by validating their concerns. Never underestimate the power of being understanding. Remind them that being nervous is a natural emotion, but that there are steps that can be taken to make this emotion feel less overwhelming. Have a frank discussion with your child about their concerns, so that you know where you need to put most of your efforts.
Bedtime essentials for your children may include making sure their bags are packed and at the door, setting out their uniform for the next day, changing into their pajamas, brushing their teeth, reading a story, and saying their prayers. In the mornings, in addition to getting dressed and having breakfast, essential routine items may include making their beds and packing their lunches.
As moms and dads, you will also have to get back into your ‘school’ routines. Making lunches and making sure bags are packed the night before, as well as planning to leave the house 15 minutes earlier may be essentials to ensure that back to school does not derail your day to day routine.
Once you have established clear routines, the next step is to chat about the day to day with your child. As mentioned already, understanding their concerns will help to guide your conversations. Their concerns will let you know whether helping them with a few conversation starters or ‘what if’ situations will be helpful. For children that are attending new schools, having an opportunity to visit the school prior to the first day is important. For schools that do not have a structured orientation, make an appointment for you and your child to meet their classroom teacher and take a walk around the school. Knowing the location of school hot spots like the bathroom, tuck shop and school office will make your child feel more at ease.
Back to school is a fun time but it can also bring with it a lot of uncertainty for our little ones. Set aside time nightly to powwow about the first days of school. Also, remember that your child’s teachers are your partners in education for the next year. Don’t hesitate to speak to them about any transition challenges and get their advice. Allow the open dialogue that you have with your child and their teachers to guide your way. Wishing you an awesome year!