Many children at the beginning of a new school year will feel a mix of anticipation and apprehension, with some more nervous than others. Anxiety is a common feeling from a kindergartener beginning school to a high schooler starting a brand-new school. What’s a parent to do?
Here are a few ways you can prepare your child for this important transition.
Visit the school
Many schools encourage new students to get familiar with the school. It’s important to get a good understanding of school layout. Knowing the basics, like where the classrooms, bathrooms, and cafeteria are located is essential information for every child.
A visit will give your child some visual reassurances when walking into the school on their first day. For younger children, take some time to play on the outside play area if it’s not occupied by students. Most kids love to play outside and it will leave a good first impression.
Meet the teacher
Whether it is Open House or Back-to-School Night, attend with your child. It will be the perfect opportunity for your child to meet the teacher. Putting a face to a name, your child will gain some comfort from knowing who their teacher is.
Mingle with other parents and their children. The more familiar faces on the first day, the better your child will feel when they walk into the classroom.
Discuss getting home
Your child will need to know how they will be getting home. If you will be picking up your child, let them know you will be waiting for them in the carpool line. If your child will be riding a bus home or a van to an afterschool program, explain the process and how the adults will make sure they will be safe.
Arrive on time for pick up. Being late will cause unnecessary stress to your child.
Ease the fears of elementary students
It’s hard to predict how a young student starting out in a new school will react to the first day. Some will cling to their mom while others will walk away without a glance over their shoulder.
To ease some fear, try to have your child meet a classmate in your neighborhood before the first day. If possible, consider having your child carpool or ride the bus with their new friend, so they will be walking into the school with someone they know.
Help tweens and teens get comfortable
This age group will experience a larger school setting. Learning to find their way around the school from lockers to classrooms can cause some stress. It will take some practice to get comfortable with their new surroundings. Make sure your child visits the school prior to the first day to give them a chance to learn the lay of the land.
Social issues will play a big role with their outlook on school. Fitting in, making and keeping friends are big concerns. Encourage your child to foster positive friends who will be good influences in their lives.
Offer support and reassurance
Discuss with your child on how they are feeling. If they are feeling uneasy, tell them it’s normal to be nervous and many other kids are feeling the same way. Point out the positive aspects of starting school like how it will be fun making new friends and learning new things.
Leading up to the first day of school, continue to have periodic chats to ease worry and boost their spirits.
Photo Credit: Sara Kendall
This story was written for CharlotteFive’s latest channel for parents in the QC, called QC Playground. Sign up for the weekly QC Playground newsletter here.