It’s that time of year again when children all over the country are gearing up to go back to school. For many, this is their first time away from home, and they may be feeling a range of emotions — excitement, nerves, anxiety. As a parent, you may be feeling the same way! Here are some tips to help your child (and you!) make a smooth transition to school:
1. Talk to your child about what to expect on their first day.
Having a conversation with your child about their expectations for their first day may help to ease their nerves. What will they do when they first get there? Where will they go? Who will they meet? Allowing them to visualize their day may help them feel more comfortable about the experience.
It would be best if you also talked about any worries or concerns they may have. Listen to them and try to offer reassurance where you can. Never dismiss their fears — they are valid to your child even if they seem silly to you.
2. Do a practice run
If your child is going to school for the first time, it may be helpful to do a practice run beforehand. This can help them to familiarize themselves with the route and the surroundings. Let them lead the way and point out any landmarks or features they may find interesting.
3. Get them excited about school
There’s no need to be nervous — a school is a place for learning and fun! Help your child see school as an exciting adventure by talking about all the great things they will get to do there. From making new friends to learning new things, there are many reasons to be excited about school!
Even if you have a young child going for the first time to a daycare center, help them feel excited about all the fun they will have playing with other kids their age. Show them pictures of the center, if possible, and talk about all the toys they will get to play with.
4. Help them to pack their school bag
Letting your child pack their school bag can help them feel more in control and independent. If they are old enough, give them a list of things they will need to take with them and let them choose which items to pack. If they are younger, you can pack the bag for them but still involve them in choosing which items to take.
You can also use this opportunity to teach them about responsibility by asking them to pack their lunchbox or snack. This will help them to feel more grown-up and capable. Just supervise to make sure they are not packing too much or taking anything they shouldn’t.
5. Set up a routine
A school-day can be long and tiring, so it’s essential to have a routine to help your child (and you!) get through the day. The routine may include getting up at the same time each day, having a healthy breakfast, packing their school bag the night before, and so on.
It will also help to set a time and place for doing homework each day. This should help your child develop good study habits and make it easier for you to oversee their work. Always be available to help them if they need it, but try not to do their homework for them.
6. Set up a meeting with the teacher
If possible, it can be helpful to set up a meeting with your child’s teacher before the school year starts. You can use this as a chance to ask any questions and voice any concerns you may have. It’s also an opportunity to get to know the person who will teach your child and build a rapport.
When talking to the teacher, mention anything relevant to your child’s education, such as special needs or medical conditions. This will help the teacher be better prepared to support your child in the classroom.
7. Be positive
Your attitude towards school will significantly impact your child, so it’s essential to be optimistic about the whole experience. Avoid talking about your own negative experiences from school (we’ve all had them!) and focus on the positive aspects instead.
In particular, avoid saying anything that may make your child feel anxious or scared about going to school. They will already be feeling insecure about this new experience, so try to reassure them and build their confidence.
8. Let them know you’re there for them
Finally, starting school can be a big adjustment for your child, so it’s important to let them know that you’re there for them. They may need some time to settle in and may experience some ups and downs.
Be sure to check in with them regularly to see how they’re going and offer any help or support they may need. Let them know that you’re only a phone call away if they need to talk to you about anything.
Starting school is a significant milestone in your child’s life, and it’s natural to feel a little anxious about it. But with a bit of preparation, you can help your child (and yourself) feel more confident and excited about this new chapter. Just follow these simple tips, and you’ll have a great school year.