The first day of school can bring jitters, anxiety and stress for both kids and parents alike. After all, your child is going to be facing a new or unfamiliar situation, and any preparations you can make for the “big day” will help minimize the uneasiness they may feel about taking this important first step. Below are some tips and suggestions you can use to help make your child’s first day of school a positive experience.
1. Talk to your child ahead of time so that they’ll have a good idea of what to expect on their first day of school. Explain the general order of what they’ll be doing throughout the day, including how the schedule will run and what activities they should expect to participate in. This is especially important if it’s your child’s first-ever experience with going to school. Ask them how they feel about it, and do your best not to dismiss or minimize anything they might share with you. Validate their input with empathy (e.g., “I understand how you feel; when I was a kid, I felt scared too!”), and offer encouraging words to keep them focused on the positive aspects of this new experience.
2. Plan a visit to the school before school actually starts, so that your child won’t feel like they’re in a completely foreign environment on their first day. If you can’t tour the classrooms, at least take a walk around the property and look at the playground area, bus loading area, etc., so that they’ll be at least somewhat familiar with their surroundings before they actually begin their classes.
3. Make a list of the supplies your child will need for their first day, and make sure they’re fully equipped. This includes their backpack, pencils, markers, ruler, nap mat, etc. Forgotten supplies can produce unnecessary extra anxiety, so make that list and check it twice to be sure that your child will be good-to-go on their big day.
4. Teach your child the all-important art of making new friends. Let them know that there will be plenty of children at school who will be just as anxious and nervous as they are, and would love to have a new friend to help ease some of those “first day jitters.” Teach your child how to introduce him/herself to other kids through role playing exercises. Give them two or three simple questions or topics that they can use to start a conversation with another kid, such as “What was the best thing you did all summer?” or “What TV shows do you like?” Emphasize the importance of being proactive–i.e., being the first kid to say hello–and remind them that there’s not too many kids that would turn down the opportunity to meet a friendly, easy-to-talk-to kid that they can share this new experience with.
5. Whether your child shows it or not, they greatly value your reassurance. Affirm to them that everything is going to be okay, and that you’ll see them again later on that day. Whether you’ll be the one picking them up or you’ll be at home later to greet them, it’s important to communicate this reassurance to your child – it will give them a sense of security and comfort that will carry them throughout their first day of this new experience.
Learning is an adventure at Youthland Academy. Our team of trained teachers and staff work to create a safe, nurturing and loving environment your child will look forward to every day. Learn more about how Youthland Academy is helping parents raise confident kids!