The back-to-school period at the beginning of a new term or a new school year can be stressful for both parents and children. For parents, there is always a long list of items on the checklist to tick off before day one, while for kids there is a potential flurry of nerves to deal with due to starting at a new school, making new friends, or trying to keep up with an influx of homework or a busy extracurricular schedule.
If you’re trying to be as organized and proactive as possible when it comes to sending your child off to school, it’s best to plan ahead and be prepared. Read on for some important things to keep top of mind today.
Choose the Right School for Your Family’s Needs
One of the best things you can do to help your child when it comes to schooling is to actually ensure they are attending the right venue for their needs. With children all being so different, and requiring different facilities, support and teaching styles as a result, there shouldn’t be a “one size fits all” approach. When comparing schools, you should keep in mind things like your child’s interests (like music, art, drama, or sports), as well as their particular mental, emotional, and physical needs.
It is also important to consider familial beliefs when it comes to choosing a school. If faith is a priority in your household, you may wish to find a top Jewish boarding school or a local Catholic or other religious private school, as an example, so that the appropriate family values and customs are upheld. This will also make it easier for your child to settle straight in at school.
You can also help your child cut down on their first-day jitters if you establish some daily routines in advance, particularly if they are heading off to school for the very first time. Creating routines helps children to learn what tasks they must do each day, when they should complete each one, and why each is necessary.
There are many different routines you may want to put in place, but the most essential are typically to do with going to bed and getting ready for school of a morning. It helps to send kids off to bed at the same time every night for a few weeks before the term starts so that they get into a regular night-time pattern.
It also pays to wake your child at a pre-determined time each morning. This will give them plenty of time to get ready so that they don’t have to rush and feel more stressed. You can also teach your child to get into the habit of having a nutritious breakfast before school, and in hanging up their clothes at the end of each day.
Get Organized in Advance
You will also ease some pre-term concerns if you are as organized as possible before the first day of school. Make sure you buy your child’s uniform, if they’ll be wearing one, in advance so that you know the sizing is correct or so you can have items altered to fit well if necessary. Let your child try on this uniform a few times before school starts so that they can get comfortable in the new clothing.
Alternatively, if there is no set uniform at the school your child will be attending, spend some time going through their wardrobe with them to discuss what might be suitable for their school days, and supplement it with new items if need be.
Allowing your child to pick out their own items for school, such as stationery supplies, a lunch box, art smock, school bag and the like can also help to ease their worries as it gives them a sense of control over an otherwise potentially overwhelming situation.
Limit the Unknown
If your child is worried about starting school for the first time, or beginning term at a brand new school, you can help ease their stress by limiting the unknown as much as possible. For example, before their first day you might like to take a trip to the school so that your child can see where they will be dropped off and picked up from, and what their classroom and other facilities are like.
You can also work out the bus or walking route to and from the school and, if at all possible, introduce your child to their teachers and some of the children who will be in their class (or a “buddy” if the school operates such a system).
Communicate Before the First Day
Lastly, make sure that you communicate well with your child before the first day of school. Being there for them emotionally, through listening to their fears and then reassuring them, can really make a big difference to their nerves.
Be open to any questions your child may have about their school and the process involved in attending, and provide them with well thought-out answers. Try to indicate too that they already have the necessary skills they need to cope with the change they’re facing. Alternatively, you can also role play some potential scenarios if they seem fixated on certain concerns.