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First Time School Tips For Parents

Congrats! You made it through the first week of back to school season!

To be honest I was excited for the school year to start. I was looking forward to a little more me time and the security of knowing my child was in a learning environment again. But between all the documents, supplies and meal prepping, you may find that the excitement wears off quick.

Back to school means back to stress. Even if you don't have kids, it means more traffic, more craziness, flu and other "fun" stuff. Yay.

And just when you think you have it all together and make it to the classroom on time, the teacher hands you a list of extra supplies to buy, a rulebook for parents, and a PTA form.

If you ask most parents about their child’s first day of school, you may catch a little mist in their eyes and their voices might start to crack. Even if you are a cool, laid-back, it’s no big deal type of parent, the first day of school is always going to unforgettable and emotional. Personally, I have cried every morning this week after I dropped my son off at Pre-K. It was so hard!

Regardless of how hard it is, the first day of Pre-K or kindergarten is a MAJOR milestone for kids - and parents! It is the official launch of your child’s formal learning career and the beginning of new independence. It is also when your family and work life becomes organized around school hours, which can take some getting used to.

Both you and your preschooler are probably feeling anxious about the first day of pre-k or kindergarten. These 4 tips will help you deal with the overwhelming emotions and hopefully make their first day less scary.

Visit the school and the classroom

On the very first week of school, it helps go early to hang around a little bit for the beginning of class. I know, I know, going to school even earlier seems like a pain, but it isn’t going to be this way forever. Bringing your child to school early on those first few days to get them used to the process of being in school. Take a stroll through the hallways, walk around their classroom, show them their cubby, let them strike up a conversation with their teacher. Trust, me if you do this it will seriously ease their anxiety (yours too) plus it will make your departure less upsetting. Research has shown that most children get upset at the start of school because they are unsure of what is going to happen next, what they are supposed to do and who their teacher is. Use this time to familiarize them and they will be calmer and more willing to come to school.

Help them make new friends

Even at an early age, the social scene can be a big worry for kids heading off to school for the first time. Believe or not, our little ones are concerned about the same things we are as adults.

“Will I know anyone there?”

“I am going to make friends?”

“Will I sit next to someone I don’t like?”

Always prep your child and let them know what to expect, and be positive about it! Tell them they will have a lot of fun in school, do fun activities and meet new friends. And if they have concerns, let them express that so you know how to help them adjust.

A great way parents can help that very first week is by chatting with the other parents who have kids in the same class. Find out who lives in your neighborhood, which kids like to play the same sports or go to the same park. Connect with those parents and set up playdates outside of school. This will help your child have a few friends they can count on when they come to school each day.

Be extra positive at drop off time

To keep it real, your kid will probably cry the first few days you drop them off, especially if they are starting pre-K. All the preparation in the world won’t stop that from happening, so don’t be surprised if the teacher has to carry them in when the school bell rings. Even if you have that lump in your throat, keep it positive. Don’t cry in front of them - if they know you are sad too, it will make things much harder on both sides.

According to pediatrician Dr. Sabaa Alvi, the best thing you can do is make the goodbye as short as possible. “When you’re saying goodbye, make it a quick, light and reassuring, ‘See you later!’ so they understand you are coming back. And whatever you do, don’t sneak away and leave when your child isn’t looking. This makes them feel abandoned, and that is not the way to ease them into school life.”

Celebrate their first week of making through school

It helps to sweeten the deal with a celebration or fun activity once your child completes their very first week of school. You don’t have to be extra with it, but a nice new toy, making their favorite meal or taking a trip to their favorite place definitely sets a nice tone for back to school. And don’t forget to treat yourself too! It’s your first week of school too :-)

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