Your child probably looks forward to their first day of school with mingled anticipation and fear. You feel the same way, most likely.
The preparation you do determines how smoothly the process will go. It helps to take hints from moms who have been there. Here are nine tips for surviving the first day of school.
1. Visit First
Have you ever noticed how everything seems scary the first time you do it? Once it becomes old-hat, you don’t give a second thought to the fears that once had you shaking in your boots. The same principle applies to your child.
Arrange to visit your child’s school before their first day. Some teachers create online virtual tours so that you and your little can sneak a peek before arriving onsite. Spend as much time as your child needs to feel comfortable navigating to the restroom and passing through the hallway to the cafeteria or gymnasium.
2. Meet the Teacher
Your child’s teacher is one of the most important adults in their world next to you. You owe it to them and yourself to make proper introductions and smooth relationships.
Many schools have a meet-the-teacher night before school begins. Please make every effort to attend. If you can’t make it due to a schedule conflict, open the communication lines via phone or email. Is there another time you could stop by for five minutes to discuss your child’s unique needs and gain insight into their instructional style?
3. Rehearse Your Morning Routine
Few things create more stress than rushing to get out the door on the first day of school. To make the process less anxiety-producing, do a trial run.
How long does it take your child to wake up, brush their teeth, eat breakfast and tie their shoes? It probably takes considerably longer than the five or ten minutes similar chores might take you. Instead of punishing your little one for going too slowly when they’re doing the best they can, accommodate their needs. Set a timer and give yourself five extra minutes beyond that when setting your alarm.
4. Set Out Your Clothes
What should your little one wear? You don’t want them having a fit over their wardrobe when the bus is on the way. The solution? Set out their clothes the night before.
Let your child determine what they’ll wear within reason. As long as it’s appropriate for the weather, who cares if they prefer pink pants with an orange shirt? Let them express their quirky sense of style.
5. Pack a Lunch (With a Note)
The rules have changed in many schools due to Covid. While students traditionally reported to the cafeteria, some are now eating in the classroom to promote social distancing. Getting a hot meal back to their desk can prove troublesome — it’s easier to brown bag it, at least at first.
Use this opportunity to remind your child that you love and believe in them. It only takes a minute or two to write a note containing a positive affirmation, but it can make your child’s entire day. Imagine if you opened your lunch kettle to a message like, “You have an awesome sense of humor.”
6. Prepare Their Backpack
It’s wise to get your child in the habit of packing their backpack the night before. Spend extra time organizing and labeling their supplies before the first day of school.
Your child’s teacher will probably distribute a syllabus telling your child what they need. However, it’s always wise to prepare with the following:
- 3-ring binders
- Pens and pencils
- Loose-leaf paper
Also, today’s Covid reality demands extra hygiene measures. Please stock up on plenty of hand sanitizers, wipes and disposable masks. If you have a few extra dollars, please help the teacher by picking up some extra for the classroom.
7. Practice Your Commute
Will you drive your child to school, or will you walk or ride a bike? Here’s another chance for you to do a test run and adjust your timing.
Travel to and from school using whatever method you’ll turn to most often. Take note of hazards. How many streets must they cross? Identify safe-havens, such as trusted businesses, where your child can go for help if something happens along the way. In time, you can use the Test of Twelve to determine when they’re old enough to walk alone. Plan on accompanying them to the first day of school.
8. Talk About Their Fears
If it’s been a while since you’ve been little, you might not remember how scary the world is from that perspective. Give your children an opportunity to talk about their fears.
Please validate their feelings — don’t say, “that’s silly” or “toughen up.” Let them know it’s okay to be afraid, then pass on healthy coping skills for dealing with fear. For example, children can benefit from deep breathing as much as adults. Have them practice doing “Darth Vader breath” to calm themselves when they feel anxious.
9. Plan a Special Evening
The first day of school is a significant milestone. Why not plan a special evening the night before — and, perhaps, after?
While you should adhere to the usual bedtime, help your child unwind the evening before by watching a favorite video or reading a beloved story together. We all still scream for ice cream — perhaps plan a trip to your favorite parlor or set up a DIY sundae bar after they survive the big first day.
Tips for Surviving the First Day of School
Emotions can run high when classroom bells begin ringing again. Follow these nine tips for surviving the first day of school.