No matter how old they are, what grade they’re entering, or which one of my kids it is…. I’m always nervous for my babies on their first day of the new school year. Will they make friends easily? Will they know where to go? Will they like their teacher? Did I get the right supplies? Heaven forbid I forget their lunches the first week! I am always a wreck the first day.
I love seeing my kids get excited as we start to prepare for the first day. To them, it’s an opportunity to see their old friends and make new ones. There still comes responsibility, as a parent, to help ensure they are as prepared as possible for the new school year.
It’s vital to attend any open house at school, meet the teacher night, etc. This is how we engage with the teachers and or teachers’ aides and start building relationships. These relationships are key in providing insight into your child’s education and development.
By taking a tour of the school before the year starts, and even visiting their new classroom(s), it can help familiarize your kids with where they need to go and make them feel comfortable. It’s also a good idea to do a trial run and show them where they will be dropped off, how to get to the classroom, and point out car pick up lines or bus lines.
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If they’re riding the bus, find out if any of their friends or a neighbor will be on the same bus. Having a ‘bus buddy’ can make them less nervous and help them enjoy the new experience. While all buses are numbered, many schools identify buses with images (a star, a basketball, a wheel) to help the young kids identify their ride. If you’re at all nervous about making sure your child gets on the right bus, you can always create an index card with the bus’ image or number, the bus driver’s name, your child’s name and your information. Think of it as an emergency bus card.
By setting out their clothes the night before, having backpacks ready, and a healthy lunch packed up, it’ll make the morning seem calm rather than rushed and stressful. Getting your kids to bed at a decent “school night” hour, and getting up early in the morning a few days before school starts will help them get back into a routine.
Go over their schedules with them. Make sure they understand when their day starts and ends, pointing out any new changes so they become familiar with their new routine. This is particularly handy when you have children with different school schedules and pick-up times, or if you’re not picking them up at the same time each day, or if they’re attending after care. Printing out their weekly schedule on an index card can be very helpful for your child and school administrators.
Ask your kids questions, and let them ask you questions. The more you talk about it the more comfortable they’ll feel—Are they scared? Are they excited? Which friends are they most excited to see? Get the conversation rolling. You can work on their social skills and practice introductions so they are confident when meeting new kids and asking questions in school.
The most important thing is to show your kids that you’re confident with their ability to succeed in school. Yes, every parent is nervous at some level, but don’t let your child see that. While you are nervous about drop-offs and pick-ups, they might misread that for lack of trust in their abilities.