Starting school for the very first time. It’s an exciting, busy time.
Sure, the summer’s slowed-down pace coupled with not having to pack school lunches makes July & August pure joy. But for me, after eight weeks, I welcome the opportunity to outsource six children for six hours a day.
However, if your little bird is leaving the nest for the first time this year, you might not be feeling so ready for school to start. Here’s my advice: Try not to panic as September approaches. Instead, follow these 3-step plans far in advance of school starting, a few weeks ahead of school and on the actual first day.
A few weeks ahead
1. Be organized. Last-minute shopping sprees or panic over not having everything ready for that all important first day can stress everyone. Make a list and shop far ahead of time so stocking up on supplies and clothes feels more like fun than a chore. Summer months are often great for clothing sales too!
2. Take an inventory. Clear out closets to assess what can stay and what can be handed down, donated or recycled. Knowing what your child actually needs will help keep back-to-school shopping on budget.
3. Involve your child in choosing and labeling their back-to-school gear. This will add to their enthusiasm for school and give them a sense of pride in their belongings. It’s a no-brainer that I’d advocate labeling but for little kids especially, the benefits are many. Apart from helping them identify their belongings and avoid mix-ups with lookalike items, labels minimize the chance of them losing stuff, which means less stress for both of you!
The week before
1. Adjust routines. Start earlier bed and wake-up times to help ease into the new school schedule. If your child will be in school all day, they’ll have to adjust to a new meal schedule. Familiarize them by scheduling lunch and snack times to coincide with school/after-school ones.
2. Create a dedicated area for school stuff. This is where they can keep their school bags, books and papers, as well as a school calendar. Use a sticker to mark the first day of school and other important/fun days.
3. Practice the first day routine. Go through all the steps together from waking and getting ready on time to walking to the bus stop or driving to school. Familiarity will reduce nervousness and iron-out any timing glitches.
On the day
1. Allow time for a healthy breakfast. Nervous tummies might not be ready for a big meal so keep it light but nutritious. Injecting some fun into it can help ease nerves too – make a blueberry smiley face on that bowl of cereal or pancake.
2. Be prepared. If needed, have papers and phone numbers in order and ready to go.
3. Stay cool. We parents are often more nervous than our kids! Since children can pick up on our moods, keep your jitters hidden and tell your child that you’re sure they’re going to have a great first day. Chances are, they will!