Raise your hand if your nervous about September?
With the end of summer quickly approaching the beginning of a new school year is on the horizon. For many this means our kids returning to school for another year and for some it means the start of a new journey for both kids and parents…kindergarten!
Many parents (myself included) fret over their child beginning school. There are so many details to sort out – what lunch bag to buy? What backpack? Will they remember to go to the bathroom on their own? and then the questions that are not as easy to answer. Will they find a friend? Will they listen to the teacher? All of these questions are completely normal and understandable.
Having been there myself and having a passion for children’s mental health I want to share some tips that can help make the transition that much smoother.
- Curb your own worries about the big day – children are so attuned to the adults around them. They soak up all of the information from us both verbally and non-verbally. If your feeling anxious about the transition, chances are they know. Talk about the transition in a positive way, don’t overwhelm them with details. Let them enjoy this transition to big kid status.
- Visit the school. If your going to walk, walk with them the few days before, visit the building and playground. If it’s a bus school go visit the playground and the building. Let them explore their new surroundings
- Talk about you starting school and the feelings you had, ask siblings if available to talk about their first day. Normalizing the feelings of both excitement and nervousness are key to allowing your child feel them. Hearing that you or an older sibling had similar feelings gives them the okay to talk about them. Acknowledge that its okay to be nervous and scared rather then brush it off. Ex. “the first day does sound pretty scary doesn’t it? I’ll be there at the end of the day to get you to hear all about it”
- Use a social story – whether you write this down or do it verbally. Get silly and creative with your child in making them the main character in their big first day. Include things like schedule, routine and feelings. This can help the actual first day run smoother if the child knows what to expect.
- On the first day, don’t hang around. I know you want to – but staying makes the transition so hard on little ones. Give them a really big goodbye and reassure them you’ll be there at the end of the day and then turn them over to the teacher. If you have a little one whose extra anxious about the big day pre-establishing the goodbye routine can be helpful. Ex. (3 hugs, 5 kisses and 1 wave)
Before you know it you and your child will be pre-kindergartners.
Good Luck on the first day and watch out for another article shortly on “talking to your kids about their school day”