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The first day of school is just around the corner. The start of a new school year is an exciting time, but it can also bring with it a lot of big feelings for children and families. I have experienced many first days of school with my kids, and I have learned a few lessons that I hope will help the start of the new school year go more smoothly.

Notice how you are feeling about the start of the school year. The new school year brings about changes not only for kids but also parents. Maybe you are sending your child off to their first school experience or maybe they are moving onto elementary or middle school. You might be feeling nervous about this big step. Your child may pick up on these feelings and this could shape their feelings in a negative way.

Temperament has a big impact on how your child experiences the start of school. Some children have any easy time adapting to change. This may make the transition to school more easily. Other children may be like my youngest, a slow to warm up kid. Change was always hard for him. He needed a lot of preparation prior to any change, especially the start of a new school year. Keep reading for ideas for how to help prepare your child for the new year.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare. Spending time helping your child prepare for the adjustment to school can ease your child into the upcoming change. Some ways to prepare your child include:

  • Talk about what will happen at school. With two of my kids, we would drive past their preschool and talk about how that was their school. We also talked about what the process would be. Mommy will bring you to school. We will go inside and find your cubby. Mommy will give you a hug and say goodbye. You will stay at school with your teacher and friends to play. Mommy will be back after lunch.
  • Practice the new routine. Whether your child is going to half day or all day, morning, or afternoon preschool, going to school will create a new routine. Figure out what that routine will be and then practice it with your child.
  • Read books about going to school. Here is a great list of books to check out with your child. https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/teaching-tools/book-lists/popular/best-back-to-school-books-prek.html

Keep it short and sweet. Saying goodbye to your child on the first day can be hard on them and us. It is important to keep your goodbye short and sweet. I usually recommend parents say something like, “Mommy or Daddy are going to go. You will have so much fun. I love you!” Then give a hug and head out, even if your child is upset. It can be tempting to stay and comfort your child. However, this can cause more distress for your child. If you start to leave and then come back, your child is left feeling unsure of whether you are leaving or not. Make a plan to say a short and sweet goodbye and know that your child’s teacher will be there to comfort them.

Prepare siblings for the upcoming change. About 10 minutes after his sisters got on the bus together for the first time, I hear a little voice say, “I want my girls. When will my girls be home?” My son was not ready for his sisters to be gone for the whole day.

Remind your child that they are brave and kind. PBS Parents shares the following, “Every child can be brave, and every child can be kind. These two traits will help children thrive socially, emotionally, and academically. When you see your child acting courageously or being kind to others, point it out. These are powerful words for kids to learn as they begin to shape their sense of who they are and how they relate to others.”

The start of the a new school year is an exciting time, but it can also be stressful for both kids and families. Find ways to take care of yourself and your child to help ease any nerves and worries.