Calming the First Day of School Jitters

As we look towards the end of summer, for many families September brings a big transition as children head off to school. For some kids the first day of school is anticipated with trepidation. How can parents calm the first day of school jitters?

– Play act

Playing school is a wonderful way to role-play and act out some of the scenarios your child may encounter. You can play the role of teacher or your child can play with an older friend. This positions school as something to look forward to and something that the “big kids” get to do. It’s a chance to practice working on problems, reading, and raising your hand to answer questions. Making school seem fun means that it becomes something to look forward to rather than fear.

– Take a dry run

The unknown can loom large in your child’s mind. If your student will be walking to school take the walk with him or her to school several times. If your child will travel by bus you can drive the route. Make sure you begin at the bus stop and talk about getting on and off the bus.

– Visit school

Teachers head back to the classroom in advance of the first day of school. Check with your child’s school to see if you can visit the classroom and meet the teacher before school starts. Make sure you take the time to visit the restroom, the place where coats are stashed, the gymnasium, and the cafeteria.

– Get organized

You want the first day of school morning to go smoothly without any added tensions created by rushing or frantic rummaging to pull together your child’s supplies or clothing. Put together your child’s outfit the night before, plan for lunchbox ingredients, and make sure your student’s backpack is set to go. Well in advance of the first day of school take the time to pull together the items on the list of needed supplies that the school has provided.

– Head to bed

Summer’s long days often means that play extends into the evening and bedtimes are later. Change your household routine at least a week or so in advance of the first day of school. Aim for a quieter evening that allows for your child to wind down. Establish and enforce an earlier bedtime.

– Write a note

A handwritten note tucked into your child’s lunch or backpack will be a special treat. It doesn’t have to be long. Just seeing their mother or dad’s writing, and perhaps a doodled heart or smile, will make your child feel better mid-day.

– Celebrate

The first day of school that brings new friends, new discoveries, new teachers and more is a major milestone in anyone’s life. Mark it with a celebration the night before or a special breakfast in the morning.

– Commemorate

Be sure to leave time for the first day of school photo. It will be sure to become an iconic photograph in the family scrapbook. Choose a location for your picture taking that can be repeated year after year.

– Smile

Your attitude will have a large influence on your child’s state of mind. Sometimes the day can be harder on you than on your child. But don’t let it show. Your child will pick up on your apprehension and mixed emotions. You want to radiate excitement and happiness. Cry in the car as you drive away if you must but keep a smile on your face until your little student is safely ensconced on the bus or in class.

Some advance preparation, thought and special touches will go a long way towards calming the first day of school jitters.