Banish First-Day Jitters: Tips for Heading Back to School

Banish First-Day Jitters: Tips for Heading Back to School

tildaWho doesn’t love the magic that only summer vacation promises? However, as those relaxing summer days come to an end, it’s never too early to talk and listen to your children about their hopes and concerns for the first day of school. First-day jitters are normal for kids and their parents. Often, it’s the fear of the unknown and those “what-ifs” that jangle the nerves. Incorporate these suggestions as the summer’s end marches closer.

Out with the Old  

Set aside a day or two to go through last year’s clothing and supplies to see what works; make piles of items to keep, toss, and donate. Check with local churches or other organizations to find back-to-school supply and clothing drives; donate your child’s outgrown and gently used things.

Plan and Adjust Those Schedules  

Many kids scale back extracurricular activities during the summer. As late August approaches, tackle logistics by sitting down with everyone to coordinate each day. Use a dry-erase weekly calendar to track activities. Discuss educational nuts and bolts like homework routines so they’re kept consistent. For older kids and families, synch everyone’s calendar apps so you’re all on the same page. If your kiddo plays a sport or has a job, make sure to account for the time those activities require while also ensuring your child gets enough sleep.

Easier (If Not Happier) Mornings  

Elementary-aged kids need at least 10 hours of sleep each night. Before school resumes, start your kiddo on a regular bedtime and wake-up routine to reduce first-day stress. Pack lunches and backpacks, and lay out outfits the night before. Plan breakfasts ahead of time, too.

Back-to-School Prep  

Not much trumps the excitement of shopping for brand new school supplies. Get the kids involved! Schedule a date day to take your kiddo shopping for new clothing and shoes; make it extra-special with a “just the two of you” lunch or ice cream treat to celebrate a new beginning — and all those new supplies and clothes!

Many school supply lists include a request for headphones. Many over-the-ear options, which are better for little ears, are relatively inexpensive; you can find a good pair for less than $100. It’s a worthwhile investment your kiddo can use while listening to music, playing online games, or completing online exercises for school.

Help Calm Anxiety  

When your child’s a bit anxious about his new teacher or new school, stay positive. Attend an open house, especially if it’s scheduled before the new year starts, so you and your child can meet the new teacher and get acclimated to the school. Encourage your kiddo to get excited about the new year by reminding him about past trips, projects, and fun events — and upcoming opportunities to learn cool stuff this year.

Know other kids in your child’s class? Set up a few playdates before school’s back in session so that the kids can reconnect. It’s a great way to rekindle friendships, especially if the kids haven’t seen each other all summer.

Smoothing the Transition for Younger Students  

Younger children who are moving to a different school or starting school for the first time have other fears and anxieties that you calm with these suggestions.

If your kiddo attended the same school last year but has moved to a new grade/new teacher, remind her of the routine, and invite her to share the differences and fun changes to anticipate. If it’s her first year, visit the school a few times — check out the playground and see if it’s open and whether you can take a tour, even if you’ll attend orientation. The more she sees the school, the less she’ll worry on the first “official” day.

Create a goodbye routine that may include a special goodbye phrase. Plan something special to celebrate the end of the first day — a plate of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies waiting at home or dinner at her favorite restaurant.

Although it’s still too soon time to trade swimsuits for backpacks, remind your kids that the upcoming school year promises a different kind of discovery, exploration, and fun — and that nerves are normal, too!

Author of this article, Tilda Moore, researches and writes about educational resources for openeducators.org. She is passionate about helping parents and teachers in providing kids with the best education possible. She works directly with teachers and other public education groups to ensure they are working toward our vision of constructing a reliable database of verified information