There are few moments as a parent as emotional as your child’s first day of school, especially when it’s your first. I’ll never forget how enormous my daughter’s backpack looked on her tiny shoulders, her thin little legs sticking out from a big baggy dress or how lost I felt as I walked away from her classroom. She, by the way, was fine and gleefully told me so…repeatedly!
Some children bound off through the school gates without a backward glance, leaving behind mortified moms with quivering chins. Others might need to be walked to the classroom but once they spot a friendly face are happy to give mom or dad a kiss and be on their way. A small portion of children can be more anxious and don’t want to let mom or dad out of their sight.
1. Have a walk through the school a few days before school starts
If possible, take your child for a little walk through the school before it is bustling with noise and activity. Walk them past their classroom, the bathrooms, and where they might eat their lunch. If possible, let them have a play in the playground – it will help make the school ground seem more familiar.
2. Label and cover their school gear
I still have fond memories of getting my brand new school supplies and taking all of my new pencils, markers, ruler, erasers and stationery and putting them into my brand new pencil case. It’s funny just how many of us are stationery fanatics! Both of my children love to do this too, and labeling all of their belongings and covering their books has become part of our preparation for school ritual. Ideally, do this in the week before school to start getting them in the headspace. Check out Stuck On You’s huge range of name labels and school supplies.
3. Pack a picnic in their lunchbox
Pack a picnic lunch in their school lunchbox, put it in their school bag and go for a picnic. It will help familiarize them with their new belongings and build a little bit of excitement about having their own special school gear. While you’re in a nice relaxed setting, have a chat about the school routine and what their initial weeks are likely to be like. A daughter of one of the Moms here at Stuck on You ate her breakfast out of her lunchbox for an entire week before school!
Stuck On You has stylish and functional bags and lunch gear, including our ever-popular Bento Boxes!
4. Meet the Teacher
If your child is a little anxious, see if you can arrange to meet the teacher a day or two before school starts. Most teachers are there for the previous week and are more than happy to meet you in the classroom and have a chat. It will help your child feel more relaxed and they will feel more settled seeing a familiar face.
5. Be positive
Focus on all of the fun things that your child will do at school. Acknowledge that it’s normal to feel a bit nervous about doing something new, but once they get to know other kids in the class and their teacher they will feel more comfortable. Remind them of other times they were anxious but overcame it, such as the start of kinder or a sleep over at a friend’s house. Pop little notes into their lunchbox or their favorite little treat to let them know you are thinking of them.
6. Become a classroom helper
Make a day or two in the initial week or so of school to volunteer as a helper in class. If you work full time, just make it one day but if you have the time, volunteer to help out in the class room one day a week. It is pretty cute to see how proud they are to have you there and it is a great way for you to familiarize yourself with the school routine, the teacher and put faces to some of the classmates they mention. It might seem impossible now, but there will be a time when your child will not let you show your face at their school – so make the most if it!
7. Plan a play date
If you know any of the kids who will be in your child’s class, arrange a play date before school starts. It will help them to have a friend they can look forward to seeing even before the first day of school. Once school starts and your child takes a shine to any of their new classmates, see if you can arrange an after school or weekend play date.
8. Remain calm
It is completely normal for some children to experience separation anxiety or initial shyness in the first few days of school. Try to be calm and reassure them that you love them, you will be thinking of them during the day and will be back to get them soon. Remember that teachers are trained to help children adjust and are very experienced comforting and gently easing them into the day ahead.
9. Clear your calendar
Where possible, postpone business trips or extra projects in the first week or two of school so that you are available to help your child adjust to their new routine. Some children may experience anxiety or tiredness at the start of the school year and it will be less stressful for you if you are available to help them acclimatize.
10. Freeze some easy meals
Make a few easy meals and freeze them in the week before the start of school. This will give you less to think about on that first week and allow you to take time to chat about your child’s day and catch up on any reading material the school sends home in those first few days.
For Moms and Dads
The first day of school can be an anxious day for us Moms and Dads too. I recommend sharing a cup of coffee and a tear with another parent from the school after that first drop off and if you don’t have to dash off to work, have a few activities planned for that first week. Take a long walk, have coffee with a friend, or enjoy a spot of shopping – indulge in some of the things that you are usually not able to do.