by Victoria Simpson
Back-to-school is a tricky time of adjustment for everyone, even if you’ve been there many times. If your child is only 4 or 5 years old and getting ready for their very first day, chances are they’ve got a good case of the nerves, and possibly you too, as a parent.
These feelings will go subside best over time, but what can you do in the next 24 hours to make things more bearable?
Here are 7 tips on how to combat facing the first day.
1) Do a Dry Run
Whether you are walking, riding a bike, taking a bus or driving, doing a ‘false commute’ before the first day can help to ease emotional tensions. By covering the distance to school, hopefully this can give your child a sense of how long it will take, and will give them a sense of control by knowing the territory. When they pass through it the first day, it will already be familiar.
Not everyone likes acting on stage, but role-playing with your kids can be fun. Be the teacher and show them what they will be asked to do as a student. Act your parts out. Be funny and improvise silly things to relax nerves. Talk with your child about particular things they are nervous about related to their first day, and concentrate on these interchanges. Remind your child that every teacher is different, and that things won’t go exactly as you played, but that the general pattern may be the same. Have some fun with your roles and let your child be the teacher, too.
3) Read Books
If your child isn’t into pretend play, there are some great books out there that can also stimulate conversation and ideas about facing jitters. Check out this list of favorites and take a quick trip to the library.
4) Have a Conversation
Simple conversation about what to expect are also helpful. Talk with your child about routines and locations, what types of activities they might be asked to do, what other people in the school will be doing and what to do if they get lost in the building or confused.
5) Lay Out Clothes and Food In Advance
Lay out outfits together the night before and make a snack or lunch, so your child knows it’s in the fridge, and ready to go the next morning.
6) Emphasize Fun and New Experiences Over Performance
Emphasize that school, though it can seem like it is, isn’t all about performance and grading. Many times, moreover, it’s about socializing, making friends and learning to get along with others. New experiences build character, and it’s time for some new times!
7) Walk Around School Grounds, Before it Opens
If you can get to the new school before the first day, looking around at the grounds outdoors can be useful. Your child can get a lay of the land, see where the kindergarten section is, and learn the school boundaries. This can be a great way to ease tensions, and get them excited for their first day, and a chance to go inside.
Overall, encourage your child and let them know it’s normal and ok to be nervous for new adventures. Try to get a good night’s sleep and you’ll both feel better-good luck!