How to prepare your child for school

The first day of school can be traumatic for your pre-school or kindergarten-aged child. Your child may experience separation anxiety, or she just may be scared of the unknown. So many questions may be filling her head. Will she make friends? Will her teacher be nice? Will she know where to go? What if she gets too homesick?

In the weeks and even months, before she actually starts school, you can help her become more prepared. Try to anticipate some of her fears and anxieties, and do your best to set her mind at ease. Of course, you want to talk to her about what to expect in her first few days at school, but you don’t want to talk incessantly about school because this could actually make her more anxious.

Try to drive by the school’s playground before school lets out for the summer. Let her watch the children as they play. If you see a child or two that she knows, point them out to her, so she’ll know there will be a few familiar faces. Talk about some of the things they are doing on the playground, and let her know that it will be her playground, too.

Once the class lists have been posted, see if there are any other children on the list that your son or daughter might know. If so, you might invite those children to your house for a small get-together. If you know another mother or two, maybe you could host a back to school party.

You could rent a local recreation center or local pool and invite all the children in your child’s class. If your child goes to a small school, why not invite the whole kindergarten or pre-school? Everyone could chip in for snacks and drinks. Try to organize a few games that help the children get to know one another.

Once teachers are back at school preparing their classrooms, ask the principal if you could bring your child by the school. Maybe you could take a tour and visit not only her classroom but also the cafeteria, library, computer lab, office, and even the bathrooms. Once she is a little familiar with her new school, things won’t seem as scary.

Shopping for new school supplies is always fun for children, so be sure and involve your child when you shop. Let her pick out her first lunch box, backpack, pencil box, and other supplies. Keep them in her room in the days before school starts. She may get more excited when she looks at all of her new stuff. Remind her that she shouldn’t use any of it, so it will be brand new on her first day.

If you can afford it, buy her a few new school outfits. If she really doesn’t need any new clothes, let her pick up a few accessories, like new hair bows. If you have a boy, let him pick out a new watch or sporty socks.

When the big day finally arrives, you can make it special by making a great breakfast or going out to eat before school. Just make sure you allow plenty of time to get to school. You don’t want to be late on her first day.

When you walk her to her room, point out some of her friends to her. You might even tell her she may need to help another child who is upset or scared. The hardest part of the day will probably be when it is time to say goodbye to your child. You need to remain upbeat, even if telling your little one goodbye for the first time is emotional for you.

She will be watching you to see how she should react. If you are happy and positive, it will make it much easier for her to be the same. Of course, there will always be that child who grabs hold of his parent and holds on for dear life! If this is your son, don’t despair. It will be rough for the first few days, maybe even the first few weeks, but eventually it will get easier.

Hug your child, and tell him you love him. Reassure him that you will be back at the end of the day. If the teacher permits, you may be able to stay for the first few minutes of class until your child becomes involved in an activity. You don’t want to sneak out of the room, however.

If he looks up to discover you are gone, he may be afraid that you’ll disappear the same way on the next day, and then he’ll hold onto you that much tighter.

Instead, tell your child you’ll see him in the afternoon, smile happily, and walk out of the room. Be sure you arrive on time to pick up your child. You don’t want him to worry about whether you are coming or not.

In time, your child will adjust to spending his days in the classroom and away from you. Until then, a little extra love and reassurance will go a long way towards helping your child adjust to school.

In time

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