Maybe you remember your first day of school – the unfamiliar people, the different routine, the anxiety of saying goodbye for the first time. These experiences affect everyone in a student’s family, but the first day can be a joyous, monumental event with the right amount of preparation and positive reflection. Getting ready for the first big step reduces separation anxiety and helps create a positive association with school.
All parents with school-age children have been there. On your child’s first day of school, walking hand-in-hand with your student, you ask yourself a thousand little questions, realize perhaps for the first time that this is just the beginning of a lifetime of goodbyes. Your lovely child is going to school, and you are having to let go. This experience is packed with emotion, but it can be a happy and peaceful transition. LAAS wishes to provide some helpful tips to make the adjustment a little easier for you both.
• Introduce your child to common school activities ahead of time by drawing pictures, telling stories, playing with clay.
• With your child, arrange to visit the school and classroom before the first day. Point out interesting things. Meet the teacher.
• Work with your child’s teacher to prepare an easy transition and to answer your own questions regarding procedures.
• Let your child select his/her backpack and lunch box in order to be part of the process.
• On the first day, don’t panic or rush, account for traffic time, arrive on time.
• Walk hand-in-hand into the school. This sets a precedent and shows your trust in the school.
• Say goodbye with a smile, show your confidence, create your own ritual to use every day – a smile, a wink, a fist-bump. This creates reassurance.
• Plan a special event after the first day, a kind of celebration for this unique rite of passage.
FOR OLDER CHILDREN
It may not be the first day of school for your older student but it just may be his/her first day in a new school. Children who are transitioning into a different school environment have common worries and anxieties, and these are normal and to be expected. They can include clinging, crying, complaints of stomach or headaches, withdrawal or even irritability. For older students, worries can include fitting in, finding friends, meeting new teachers, adjusting to a new language. Parents can influence the situation positively by:
• Giving reassurance
• Encouraging their student to talk about his/her feelings
• Making sure to provide nutritious school snacks
• Setting morning and bedtime routines
• Providing little rewards like shared time together
Focusing on the positive, parents can make a great impact on how their student reacts to a new school environment.