Preparing Your Child For School
An article offering tips for preparing your child for the first day of school.
If you're sending your child off to school for the first time, it can be a very traumatic experience, both for your child and you. Use the weeks leading up to the start of school to become prepared. Take your child shopping for some new outfits, a bookbag, etc. Allow him or her the freedom to choose their own lunch box and supplies as this will give them a much needed feeling of independence. Spending a few days shopping with your child will not only accomplish the necessary task of obtaining school supplies, but also allow for spending precious quality time with your son or daughter.
Engage your child in conversation about the upcoming event. Let him or her know that no question is too silly or fear too trivial. Assure your child that everyone is a little frightened to go to school for the first time, and recount some upbeat first-day-of-school stories that will put your child's mind at ease.
As the big day gets closer, perhaps a week or so before school starts, attempt to put your child on a schedule. Now is the time to establish a routine – bedtime at 8:00, up at 7:00, breakfast at 7:30, etc. It is crucial that children get their proper rest, not only for the first day of school (when they probably won't sleep at all the night before) but for the entire school term. If you establish this routine a few weeks prior to school, your child will not resent or associate the early bedtime with school.
Help your child choose his/her outfit for the first day, again making them feel independent. Allow them to select what they'll pack for lunch and, if they want to, let them help you pack it. Make your child's favorite breakfast on the first day of school. This can set the tone for the day and we all know the importance of a healthy breakfast.
When the time comes for your child to actually leave for school, regardless of whether you will be driving him or he will be taking a school bus or walking, do not show your own emotions. Take his picture; this may hold back his tears. If your child does cry, comfort him. It's a good idea to give your child a token ( a "lucky" penny, a button, a piece of fabric) that will remind him of you. Tell him when he is scared or nervous, to hold the token and you will make sure he feels better. Above all, if your child is upset and crying, do not cry!!! As hard as it is, if he sees you cry, the situation will go from bad to worse. Walk him to the door or the school bus, give him a big kiss and hug (and an extra kiss for his pocket) and send him on his way. If you must look back, be sure you are smiling. Once he's safely on the bus or in the classroom, go ahead and cry -- and don't be embarrassed as every other mother around you will be doing the same thing!