Young children may feel nervous and uncertain about starting school. Families can help their children make a successful transition to their new life as a student. We have compiled and abbreviated recommendations by early education programs to help our readers.
Discuss the Upcoming Changes
Discuss schedule changes, expectations, and potential concerns to help your child build confidence.
- Before the school year begins, discuss the upcoming changes with your child. Talk about the change in routine. Stay positive.
- Help him understand that his feelings are okay. You can provide examples of how you were nervous about a change in your past. You don’t have to try to eliminate how he feels. Rather, help him recognize that he feels upset. When he learns how to identify the feeling of being sad, scared, mad, or uncertain, then you can provide tools he can use to help deal with those emotions.
- Encourage children to discuss the root cause of any concerns. Is she feeling scared about meeting other kids, the big new building, or being away from home? Understanding the specifics of what she is thinking can help guide your discussion.
- If you can approach the start of school with confidence, it will help your child start off that way as well.
Start Adjusting to the New Routine
Progressively adjust your daily routine. Visit the classroom, playground and bus stop in advance of the start of school.
- Prior to the start of school, adjust your routines as closely as possible to mimic the routine you will have at home once school starts. Start the bed time and morning routine at least a few days before the first day of school.
- Arrange a visit to the school and classroom. Introduce your child to her teacher, staff and other students if possible.
- Spend a weekend afternoon at the school playground. If you plan to pack their snack and lunch for school, use his lunch bag to pack a picnic. Make it a fun game for him to show you how he will get to choose what he will eat during school lunch time.
- Do a practice run to the bus stop. Go to the school bus stop at the morning pick up time and discuss any questions.
Play dates with classmates and picking out school outfits are a great way to build excitement about the new school year.
- Try to make a play date with another student who will be in your child’s class. If possible, meet at the school playground and let them explore and get familiar with the environment.
- Have fun with your kids picking out their clothes for the first day of school. Remember this is about what he feels comfortable wearing, which may or may not be your favorite outfit.
- Ensure there is enough time in the morning for everyone to stay calm and relaxed as they get ready for the day. Remember this is his first day getting ready for school. It’s likely he will not remember all the things he needs to do before you rush out the door to get to school on time. So be patient and help him.
- Try to get to the school early. The first day can be chaotic as most parents are there for the first drop off. The procedure is not always clear and most families want lots of photos. For parents, it may be an exciting milestone. To a small child who stands at knee level of an adult, it can be noisy, confusing, and scary. Find a quiet spot if possible and help your child enjoy the moment.
- Always say your good byes and remind him who will be picking him up that day.