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The first day of school is often a mix of emotions for all involved – from tears to cheers to sighs of relief. To make that first day easier on everyone, take note of the following tips:

  1. Prepare – Talk with your child about the first day. How is she feeling about it? Affirm her feelings with open-ended statements, 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 can help children work through feelings. See below for a list of recommended books on this topic.
  2. 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 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.
  3. Say “goodbye” – It may be tempting to sneak away while your child is not looking, especially if he’s 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 need be.
  4. Get in good habits – Early to bed, early to rise … wise words from long ago that are still true today. Start your earlier bedtimes 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.

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 on this topic:

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