The first day of school is often a mix of emotions for everyone involved – from tears to cheers to sighs of relief. There may even be some uncertainty for your little one. Anxious first-day jitters are completely normal, and we've found some easy steps to take that can help calm their nerves.
To make this special first day back to school a little easier on everyone, take note of these 4 tips for a smooth back-to-school morning.
1. Address Feelings
Talk with your child about the first day. How is she feeling about it? Affirm her feelings with open-ended questions, such as “the first day can feel scary, what it is that worries you?” to continue conversations. Dismissing feelings with statements like, “don’t be silly, you’ll be fine,” can shut down conversation. Children’s books are great tools to help children work through feelings. See below for a list of recommended books on this topic.
2. Get into Good Habits Beforehand
"Early to bed, early to rise," is an old saying, and these words still hold true today. Start an earlier bedtime a week before school starts to get back into that habit. Have the elements of a healthy breakfast prepared the night before so late mornings don’t translate into hungry tummies at school.
3. Establish a Routine
Mornings can be crazy, and a frazzled morning can lead to grumpy children (and adults). Set up some systems to make your morning flow more easily. Label areas where children should leave their backpacks, shoes, and other needed belongings. Before going to bed, make sure everything makes it to that space. Near the door, post pictures of what your children should have for school and have everyone double-check before walking out. You can also post pictures of what should be in the backpack to lessen the chance of forgetting something important.
4. Say Goodbye
It may be tempting to sneak away while your child is not looking, especially if your child has been upset. But this will lead to your child being more clingy in the future, as he will stay extra close to make sure you don’t disappear. Say goodbye with a quick and firm hug and leave the room. It also isn’t helpful to hang around and say multiple goodbyes. The teacher can help with that transition if needed.
Children who enter school emotionally and physically ready to learn are much more likely to succeed academically. These tips will help your child start with a positive foot forward.
Recommended children’s books for back-to-school:
- First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
- The Night Before Kindergarten/Preschool/1st Grade by Natasha Wing
- The Name Jar by Yagsook Choi
- The Exceptionally, Extraordinarily Ordinary First Day of School by Albert Lorenz
- How Will I Get to School This Year? by Jerry Pallotta
- It’s Back to School We Go by Ellen Jackson
- My First Day of School by P.K. Hallinan
- First Day by Dandi Daley Mackall
Learn more about our award-winning educational childcare, preschool and before and after-school programs at The Sunshine House.