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The first day of school can be tough on kids for many reasons. Children go from the comfort of home to sometimes the cold concrete walls of a school. Fears can include making new friends, their teacher’s personality and expectations and and being away from home (for possibly the first time!) The unknown is scary for pretty much anybody, right? While, as parents, we understand that school won’t be as bad as they fear, they certainly don’t understand this. As guardians and role models to our little ones, it is to show them what they are unsure about and prepare them ahead of time.
Below are some tips for helping your child prepare for the first day of school with the least amount of stress possible:
Visit the School Ahead of Time
Visiting your child’s school brings a sense of familiarity followed by comfort. If your child has already been to the building a couple of times, the fear is going to diminish a bit. They begin to know where things are located. Show them where they will be spending their day, where they will eat and of course how awesome the playground is! Just letting them get to know the surroundings will help a great deal when they have to go for an entire school day. When you visit, go through your routine. Show them drop off, classroom settings, lunchroom, and pick up location. Many schools offer an open house the week before school begins. This is a great opportunity to let them meet their teacher, see their desk and classroom atmosphere.
Trace the Path to The School
Taking your child out for a fun ride to school when school is not in is always a good time. This is particularly helpful if your child will be riding the bus. That alone is a scary thing for a kid, so knowing the route will be some comfort. Talk about the things that can happen on the way to school and how they can handle problems that might come up. I personally have a sitter picking them up some days. I will have her ride with us on a school practice run and follow up that experience with ice cream!
Have a Couple of “Dry Runs”
Where your kids are concerned, routine is your best friend during the school year. While kids might roll their eye at the daily process and tasks, it also is a great comfort to them. Practice waking up, eat breakfast, get dressed, getting in the car (or the bus) and completing homework all on a set schedule. Map out their day on a calendar if necessary. Having a schedule creates positive habits that will help them grow in life and school. As you get closer to that first day, you should have a few days where you go through all the motions. This will give them some familiarity leading up to the big day. The last thing you want to give a child on the first day of school is a surprise. Let them know what to expect as much as possible.
Be Sure They are Coming Home to Fun
Having a fun activity or two to look forward to can help them get through the first day. Something exciting could be repeating this first day of school treat every year. For example, make a pan of chocolate chip cookies right before they come home. If you are a working parent, grab ice cream before dinner on the ride home. Perhaps a trip to the park or the store to pick up additional school supplies While you are there, talk about their day and find out what they liked and disliked. I always ask my kids to share three positives and one negative. When they offer the negative, a child being mean or perhaps a fear of a subject, relate to what they are saying. By making that fear personal to yourself and sharing how you helped resolve it as a kid, let’s them know anxiety is temporary and can be solved and happens to everyone. Get those lines of communication going and don’t stop until they graduate.
Celebrate the Joy of Their Accomplishments
As a former teacher, I was always lead to give four praises before one negative. Sometimes I had to pull these praises out of a hat as I struggled to think of something good to say about a particular situation. The first day of school is a huge deal and should be celebrated in a big way! Children will attribute importance to what you consider important, so making a big deal out of it will only encourage them to view school in a big way. They should see it as vital and important, right? Make sure to shower you child in praises and support before reminding them of what they need to work on to make the school year easier.
Celebrate that first day and explain to them how it is the start of something huge!
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Looking for something fun? Pick up these Back to School Printables by Magic by Marcy for the First Day of School! Make sure to take a photo of your child in the same spot (perhaps same outfit) on the last day of school too. It is always fun to see how our kids have grown over the school year!
Also check out this FREE Morning Routine Printable!
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