Quelling those back-to-school fears
Whether it's your child's very first day of school or not, it's common for kids to experience first-day jitters. As parents, it can be very challenging for us to stand by and watch as our children are overcome by anxiety, fear, doubt, and all of the other negative feelings that the first day of school can stir up. Fortunately, there are things we can do to help put those fears and anxieties at ease.
Take away the unknown
Most often, a child's anxiety about school (or anything, for that matter) stems from the uknown element. In the case of school, this can be amplified when they are starting school for the first time or switching schools -- any scenario in which they have never been before. One way to reduce their fears is to elminate - as much as possible - the unknown.
If they are starting school for the first time or switching schools, make arrangements for a school tour so they can get acclimated before that first day.
If possible, arrange to meet their teacher.
Drive the bus route and show them where the bus will pick them up/drop them off.
If offered, attend the school bus safety session so your child will get acquainted with what the bus looks like, where to sit, how to behave safely, what to do in an emergency, etc.
Let them know what to expect
Kids love routine. When they start school, it can help them enormously to know what to expect.
Find out the daily schedule, if possible.
Let your child know roughly what to expect. "First you'll take off your coat and put away your lunchbox, and then there will be story time, then snack, etc.
Start some traditions
Establishing some back-to-school traditions can go a long way toward making the first day of school less stressful because it gives them something to look forward to and keeps them connected to you even when they are at school.
Eat a special breakfast - maybe on the deck!
Go for a treat after school - ice cream or a trip to the park!
Walk to school together on the first day
Serve their favourite dinner
Let them pick out their first-day outfit
Read a special book together
"The Night Before Big School" by E.J. Sullivan and Donna Cantanese is a great one for sparking excitement about going to school. This one has long been in our at-home library.
The Kissing Hand" is a very touching and sweet story about a young raccoon named Chester who doesn't want to go to school. He wants to stay home with his mother. She tells him that by her kissing his hand and him kissing hers, they'll always have a kiss from each other when they need it throughout the day. This is a personal tradition of ours, even though my daughter is a big kid now. Grade 4 this year!