Some of us may have been counting down the days till when our little one first starts school, while many of us can’t believe that it came upon us so quickly. Wasn’t it just yesterday that we brought them home from the hospital? Nevertheless, here we are and we want to make sure that our child is prepared for this important milestone in their life.
Adjusting to go to school for the first time can be tough for any child, even for those who are used to going into daycare. So before the first day comes, here are 7 things you can do to emotionally prepare your little one for school for the first time.
1. Plan More Social Activities
Getting your child use to interacting with new faces and peers is very helpful to their new transition. When they are in school, they will need to learn how to cooperate with other kids and that involves sharing and taking turns. If your child has not spent that much time with other children this is a great opportunity for them to get some experience. Enroll them now in fun activities such as a tumbling or swim class. Also, getting together with other children for playdates is helpful too.
If you are new to the area or do not know of many people with kids around the same age as your own, Meetup is a great way to connect. They have numerous groups for parents looking to get together for playdates with kids around the same age as their own.
2. Read Books That Are About School
I did this before every major milestone that my kids were about to reach and found that it has been extremely helpful. When my children were first starting to get use to the idea of using the potty and I got them a ton of books about using the potty. This is a great idea to use also when transitioning to going to school every day. Find books at your library where the main setting is school. Read these to them every night and allow them to ask questions about the story or school in general. They more they know the easier the transition will be.
3. Don’t Get Too Excited
Stay Cool! Sometimes acting too excited about them starting school can backfire. If you build it up too much then instead of being successful at getting them excited about starting school they can have more anxiety about this new transition. Remember to keep your efforts low key and that you focus more on answering any questions they may have.
4. Visit Their New School Prior To Their First Day
Getting them familiar with their new classroom and teacher can be very helpful. Many times the school will have a special night where children can meet their teacher and see their new classroom. Make sure you take this opportunity. If the new school does not have this event, you can ask when you and your child can tour the school and even have them play a bit on their playground. Knowing what classroom will look like and meeting their new teacher beforehand can be a great comfort to them and can help them be more confident during the walk on that first morning. They know what to expect.
5. Talk With Your Children About School
If your child is voicing any worries, make sure that you hear them out. It is sometimes easy to quickly tell them that they have nothing to worry about but it’s more harmful because they can feel like their feelings are being diminished.
If your child is so worried and their worries are not addressed, it can impact the type of experience they have that first day. Remind them that it is normal to be a bit nervous or scared. Ask them what they are worried about and work through those worries.
Are they afraid you will forget to pick them up? Show them that you set an alarm on your phone to let you know when you need to come and get them.
Are they worried that they will miss you too much? Make a small family photo book that they can take with them and look at when they start to feel lonely.
Another great way to calm any fears they may have is to talk about the schedule of their first day. Let them know what their new morning routine will be like and what to expect in the afternoon.
6. Be Organized! Be Prepared!
Kids can tell when we parents are flustered and it may make them even more anxious about their first day. Lay out their first day of school clothes the night before, pack the backpacks and lunches in advance, and make sure they have all their school supplies that they’ll need. When children feel like they are prepared, it will help their transition into school go a lot smoother instead of worrying about what they might have forgotten. This is also helpful for you too. Make a list of everything that you need to buy or do. That way you can enjoy that first day together. You can solely focus on taking pictures and making memories!
7. Learn How To Say Goodbye
If this is the first time that your child will be away from you, they may worry that you are not coming back. Implementing a goodbye ritual will be very helpful. Saying goodbye by saying fun things like “see you later alligator” or “after while crocodile” may help them say goodbye easier.
Plan on staying a bit longer that first day. This will help ease that transition and when you see that your child is settled you can make your way to the door. If you hear that your child is upset after you walk out of the door, try not to run back in to rescue. This can sometimes make the transition harder for him to adapt. Teachers are very well versed in getting a child to calm down and comfort them on their first day. If you need to quell your own fears, wait outside the classroom for a few minutes to make sure that your child is okay or you can always call the school later to verify that your child is okay.