The memorable firsts: first haircut, first step and first days of school. Emotional for all, there are steps you can take to make the transition fun and positive for your children. As for you, drop off and go to your favorite coffee shop to celebrate a bit of time alone or with the little ones still at home. Here are some tips to ease the transition from summer to school…
1. Approach the topic of school with positive excitement. Whether those are tears of joy (for just a little free time) or tears of fear and sadness (can they really make it without me?), keep it in check and focus on the new experiences, new friends and all the fun your child is going to have at school.
2. Read some books together about separation and school. The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn is one of my favorites and my youngest son went to school with two kisses that he put in his pocket every day of preschool. Will I Have a Friend? by Miriam Cohen is another helpful book to allay some of the social anxiety that comes with starting school.
3. If your child has had separation difficulty in the past or you suspect they will have difficulty parting, alert your teacher in advance. A skilled teacher will have ways to draw your child into the classroom activities, comfortably away from you. You can also discuss how to react if your child becomes upset. Be sure that you are comfortable with the plan that you create with the teacher.
4. Consider sending a small memento from home-a piece of a favorite blanket, or a family photo tucked in a pocket can give your child the security they need.
5. Don’t overdo it. If your first days leave you feeling frustrated because your 3 year old cannot make it through a full day, consider dropping back to half days if your circumstances allow.
6. Leave enough time in the morning. It is such an empty feeling to drop off your child after a frenetic, rushed morning routine. It sets the tone for both of you. Waking up just ten minutes earlier can make a huge difference and you won’t even miss those few minutes of sleep.
7. Try to keep some evenings completely free and try not to over schedule. Homework, family dinner, baths and reading take time but can be a comforting routine. All won’t happen every night but try for a few!
8. If your child seems to be overly anxious, pursue the focus of the stress. Are they worried about keeping up? Was there a bully last year? Are they worried that they won’t have any friends? Offer reassurance and help your child put together a plan for managing the situation.
9. If your child is starting a new school, try to visit the school, meet the teacher and become comfortable with the layout and schedule.
10. Share some of your own stories. When I wet my pants in first grade because I was too afraid to ask the good Sister if I could go to the bathroom, I thought my academic career was over. Well, I got through and the story has helped my children get through difficult and embarrassing situations at school.