Whether your toddler is starting preschool for the very first time or returning for another year, transitioning from a carefree summer lifestyle to a structured school day schedule can be a daunting challenge.
Most kids are bound to feel anxious or even a little scared on their first day of school – no matter the age – considering all the new things they will experience: new teachers, new classmates, and maybe even a new school sometimes (causing separation from parents and guardians). These “new” worries coupled with the process of getting back into the swing of school with teachers, homework and extracurricular activities, can tend to be overwhelming. Some of the questions worrying their tender minds could be – “What if I can’t find the restroom?”, “What if I get on the wrong bus?” or “What if I come out of school and my mom/dad/sitter isn’t there?”
Luckily, over the years, we have found a couple of ways to make this transition less painful allowing schools to be a breeze for your precious little one. So, stick around for a little, while we show some skills that can be used to beat back your post-holiday blues.
A MONTH PRIOR
Reset the sleep regime.
Three weeks before school starts, have your kiddo go to bed 15 minutes earlier at night and get up 15 minutes earlier in the morning every third day until you’ve reached your goal.
|Current Wake-up Time||Goal|
|7:30 AM||5:45 AM|
|Tomorrow: 7:15 AM|
|3 Days later: 7:00 AM|
|6 days later: 6:45 AM|
Set positive but realistic expectations
“You don’t need to be over-the-top excited, but you do want your child to feel good about school,” says a Child Psychologist Eileen Kennedy-Moore. “Let them pick out a backpack and a lunch box, walk or drive by the school, and read books about it.”
Some good book choices include:
- Llama Llama Misses Mama
- The Kissing Hand
- Maisy Goes to Preschool
- Chu’s First Day of School
- I Love You All Day Long
Your child might also benefit from making a back-to-school checklist. Write down all necessary supplies, like books, a calculator, pencils, notebooks, and so on.
If you want your kiddo to stay on task, and keep up with all that will be required of them this school year, getting a planner or a wall calendar is advisable. You can put all their due dates on it to serve as a reminder to keep moving ahead.
Develop an after-school routine. At Treehouse Academy, we embrace the hours between the time school closes and parents return from work to provide children, especially those who don’t have access to other activities, with exciting, engaging experiences that will help them learn academic, social and professional skills.
Create a new back-to-school tradition
The most important thing you can do to ease back-to-school worries is to share your confidence in your child’s ability to cope. Children tend to look to their parents to help gauge, “How dangerous is this new situation?” If you create a new back-to-school tradition, it makes it easier for your child to be accept new circumstances. Here are a few terrific ideas shared by other parents and experts.
- “If your child is beginning school for the first time or just heading back to begin a new grade, arranging gatherings with fellow classmates and parents ahead of time is a great way to break the ice. I can remember the pre-school years being invited to a family’s home as a getting-to-know-you before the year began. It was so smart and especially helpful for our kids. They were able to establish a relationship with their fellow classmates before the first day.” —Chris Pegula, father of three, founder of Diaper Dude diaper bags, and author of From Dude to Dad: The Diaper Dude Guide to Pregnancy.
- “We get all of the best ads from the back-to-school fliers in the newspaper, and then one night, after we go out do dinner, we jump around to all of the stores—100 erasers for 25 cents! Five folders for a penny! And we pack up a big bag and donate it all to the school. Schools need so many extra supplies. And we have fun running around finding deals.” —Ellen Main, a former teacher and mother of two in South Pasadena, California.
- “I’ve seen this idea floating through my social media stream this week, and I’d like to try it for my youngest son, who is going into first grade. Buy a big t-shirt for your kid that says Class of 2027—yes, Grade 1 kids will graduate in 2027—and then take a picture of your child growing into the shirt each year on the first day of school.” —Buzz Bishop, father of two who blogs at DadCamp.ca.
- Count it down. Make the first day of school something to look forward to by crafting a paper countdown chain. Each day, tear one link off the chain, and ask the kiddos to name something they’re looking forward to about school. Idea courtesy: Brassy Apple.
The Night Before
- Pre-pack their backpack with all the necessary school supplies
- Let them choose their clothes (for the entire week beforehand, if possible).
- Pack a super special lunch, with a sweet personal note for your precious.
- Avoid screen time at least an hour before bed.
- The National Sleep Foundation warns that the distractions such as electronics —especially the light from TVs, cell phones, tablets and e-readers — can prevent your children from falling asleep.
- Let them write in a diary or on a to-do list just before sleep, to reduce stress.
- Get a good night’s sleep.
- According to NIH, young children need at least 10 hours of sleep, while teenagers need at least 9 hours.
On the First Day
Make a healthy breakfast for your superman and/or wonder woman.
Write a sidewalk chalk message.
Go all out or keep it simple; either way, it’s an extra boost to help ease those first day jitters.
“A show-and-tell dinner on the first day of school gives our kids a chance to each show and tell us about their first day back, from their teacher to what they ate at lunch to a new friend they made.” —Janssen Bradshaw, a mother of three who blogs at everyday-reading.com.