Heading back to school means shiny new school supplies, brand new outfits and the chance for your kids to see all their pals on a daily basis. It’s an incredibly exciting time, but like all major transitions, it can also be a bit overwhelming — especially if your kiddo is a first-timer.
Here are our favorite three strategies for helping your children ease their nerves and embark on a happy and successful new school year:
Talk It Up
This is especially key for preschoolers, kindergartners, or even middle-schoolers who will be entering a new environment. Kids are always most afraid of the unknown, so take every opportunity you can to talk about what they can expect. Consult your friends with older kids in the same school — and get the low down on everything you can, from where to drop the kids off in the morning to the best toys on the playground.
Imagine the First Day
Once you have the info, find a few quiet moments each day during the week before school starts to visualize with your kids what their days will be like. Feel free to role-play, too. For example, ask your children what they might do if they can’t easily find a seat in the crowded lunchroom, or if they don’t know who to play with on the playground.
Visit the School or Classroom in Advance
Actually going to the school with your children before summer ends is another way to make them feel more comfortable on the first day. For young children, you can even photograph their classrooms, playground, backpack hooks and bathroom to make a Personalized New School Photobook. Along with helping your kids prepare for school, the book will also serve as a tool they can use to share their day with you once they’re back home.
Read About It
Along the same lines of talking about school, reading about the first day of school experience is an excellent way to get kids excited about it. If you need help finding the right book, Goodreads has a wonderful collection of popular first day of school books. Two of our personal favorites from the list are The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn and Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney.
Create Some Special School Routines
We’re entering our fourth year of school now, but it seems like just yesterday I was a super nervous mama, fretting over how my 3-year-old would handle his first day of being dropped off at preschool. To help ease his (and let’s be honest, my) nerves, we established a small routine of five hugs, five kisses and an out-the-door high five at drop-off.
We practiced it a few times when leaving the kids with babysitters — and I was truly amazed how smooth it made drop-off go that first day of school. (Almost a little too smooth. I definitely didn’t want my son clinging to me as I tried to walk away, but a look back over his shoulder as he ventured into the classroom would have been nice!)
Setting up an after-school routine at home can also be something comforting for your child to look forward to throughout his day. There’s a reason milk and cookies at the kitchen counter used to be such a commonplace tradition in American homes. When my son started school, we used to do a small glass of chocolate milk as soon as we got home. Eventually we phased it out, but it served both as something for him to look forward to and as a natural time for him to share his day with me.
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