It’s that time again, time for back to school. For those who are attending the same school this year, the routine is fairly easy, but for those starting school for the first time or those heading to a new school, back to school time can be a bit more challenging. To make the first day of school easier, these advance preparation strategies can be designed to fit you and your child(ren) and help you prepare for a successful start.
Help Your Child Imagine the First Day
When your child is just starting school or going to a new school, it is often hard for them to imagine the first day. You can help by describing the first day of school and helping them get an idea of what it will be like. Describe the sequence of the day, from getting up, having breakfast, riding to school, meeting new classmates, sitting at his or her desk, and so on, will make it all familiar, and less intimidating, for your child.
Once you’ve finished your descriptions, as your child questions about how they imagine the day. Explore the fun things as well as the things that might come hard for your child. Ask what they think will be the most fun as well as the hardest part. Talk about their concerns and what they are looking forward to on the first day. And answer any questions they may have about what happens on the first day of school.
Practice for the First Day of School
While it may sound a little silly at first, practicing going to school will help your child understand the routine associated with school. Get in the car, drive the route you’ll take (or the route the school bus or carpool will take). When you arrive at the school, go through the drop off routine (will you walk them in, is there a carpool line, where will the bus drop off, etc.) and then park the car and explore. Visit the entrance your child will use, walk on the field or playground, explore the swings, slides, or other things your child enjoys. Try them out. Continue to answer questions your child has about the first day of school.
Attend the open house or orientation with your child if one is available. If not, schedule a time you and your child can go meet the teachers and staff of the new school. Find out if any of your child’s friends will be in their class and plan a get-together or play date before school starts. Some schools even offer a class gathering before the first day of school to help the children acclimate to school. Any familiarity you can provide for your child will make the first day easier and more successful.
Another great way to practice is starting a bedtime and morning routine if you don’t already have one. A couple of weeks before school starts, start going to bed earlier and waking your child up earlier. You can ease into the new routine by working backward in 15 minutes increments each time until you reach the desired bedtime and wake up time.
Let Your Child Make Choices
There is a lot about school that your child has no choice or control over, but you can allow them to make choices in little things during your getting-ready-for-school prep that will help you child get excited about school. For example, let your child choose the new backpack and pick out the lunchbox for school. Grab the school supply list and let your child help find the items, make the choices that are available, and check off the list. On the eve of the first day of school, let your child choose his or her outfit, within reason, of course.
And finally, plan your goodbye for the first day of school. Whether your child will start the day best with a quick goodbye or a long hug, or an extended cuddle, planning your goodbye will start the day off right!