Kids who are starting school for the first time or moving to a new school have to cope with the biggest adjustment, but even moving up a grade means facing more academic demands, a new teacher, and changing a social circle. The good news is that a little bit of preparation and forethought can make those first weeks of school easier for your kids – and yourself.
Here are a few tips to help get your school year started on the right track from the beginning:
- Make sure your child is familiar with the school.
If your child was at the same school last year, great! You only need to talk about any differences this year, but if this is your child’s first year at this school, then you’ll want to make sure you visit the school before the first day. Our school will have a Teacher Meet and Greet Event the Wednesday before school starts so if possible you will want to attend. This will allow your child to see the school, meet their teacher or teachers and visit their classroom. There will be some fun activities and events to participate in as well.
- Facilitate your child’s bonding with the teacher.
All kids need to feel connected to their teacher so they feel comfortable in the classroom. Until they do, they are not ready to learn. Experienced teachers know this, and “collect” their students emotionally at the start of the school year. Obviously, if you can arrange for your child to meet the teacher in advance, by all means do so. But there are lots of ways to help your child feel like he knows even a teacher they have never met.
Once you find out your child’s classroom assignment, begin talking about the teacher in fond and familiar terms.
Encourage your child to draw a picture to bring Ms. Sara on the first day, and to pick out a shiny red apple for her. Your child will feel a fondness for the teacher to which they are likely to respond favorably. Regardless, the feeling of familiarity will help your child bond with their teacher.
- Practice saying goodbye.
For many children, the biggest challenge will be saying goodbye to you. Orchestrate small separations to practice saying goodbye, and develop a parting routine, such as a hug and a saying like, “I love you, you love me, have a great day and I’ll see you at 3!”
You might give your child a token to hold on to that reminds them of you, such as a cut-out heart with a small note, that they can keep in their pocket while you’re apart and give back upon your return. Most kids like to have a picture of their family in their backpacks. Say your goodbyes at the bus stop if your child is a bus rider or in the car if you drive your child to school. The school does not allow parents to walk their child to the classroom each day as it makes it hard on the child to part with a parent so it’s better from the beginning to get your child in the routine of leaving you at the car rider line. Believe me the school has plenty of adults all throughout the school to make sure your child gets to their classroom.
- Get your kids back on an early to bed schedule before school starts.
Most children begin staying up late in the summer months. But if you have to wake your child for school in the morning, then your child has not had enough sleep. Children need 9 1/2 to 11 hours of sleep a night, depending on their age and individual physiology. (Teens need a minimum of 9.5 hours; toddlers usually do best with 11 hours). Getting kids back on schedule so they’re sound asleep by 9pm, so they can wake by themselves in the morning for school takes a couple of weeks of gradually moving the bedtime earlier.
Imposing an early bedtime cold turkey the night before school starts results in a child who simply isn’t ready for an earlier bedtime, having slept in that morning and with the night-before-school jitters. In that situation, you can expect everyone’s anxiety to escalate. So, keep an eye on the calendar and start moving bedtime a bit earlier every night by having kids read in bed for an hour before lights out, which is also good for their reading skills.
These are just a few tips that we hope you will find useful. Our wish is that you and your child have an amazing school year. Plan ahead and you will be successful in your transition back to school or to school for the first time. Happy Learning!