First Day Jitters
The excitement! The anticipation! The sleepless nights! No, we’re not talking about Christmas Eve. We’re talking about the first day of school. It’s the next big step in your daughter’s quest for independence as she walks into that big building; out of your hands and into the hands of her teacher. It’s a bittersweet moment, but one that will inevidibly occur. For some children the transition is easy. For others it’s a terrifying event. For parents…well, let’s just say it’s a moment that’ll definitely involve some Kleenex! Whichever way the wind blows, here are some tips to help make the transition easier for her…and for you.
• Register your child at her new school. When enrolling your daughter at a new school, it’s a good idea to take her with you. This way you can introduce her to the principle and staff. Teachers are usually on vacation during the summer, but if there is a summer program, your daughter’s teacher may be available for her to meet. While there, take a tour of the building to familiarize yourself and your child with the school. The more she knows, the more comfortable she’ll become.
• Prepare your child for kindergarten. Create fun summer lessons to you’re your daughter prepare. Have your child practice writing her name, ABC’s, and numbers. Begin to brush up on colors, small words, and patterns. It’s also a good idea to teach your daughter her address and phone number. Kids can retain a lot of information and learn best by repetition. The more you go over these things with her, the easier it will be for her to recall them. Also, read to your child nightly. The more she knows going in, the more fun she’ll have while she’s there.
• Allow her to be part of the school shopping experience. Let her pick out her own book bag, supplies, and yes…even clothes. Giving her the opportunity to make choices connected to preparing for school will get her more excited about going. Fair warning: even though she’s picking out her own clothes doesn’t mean she’s necessarily prepared to put an outfit together. You don’t want her dressing herself in a flower shirt, striped pants, and diamond plaid socks the first day!
• Get her into a bedtime and wakeup routine. It’s best to do this the week before school starts. Buy an alarm for your daughter and set it for her wake up time when school is in session. Also, start to enforce a bedtime for her. Young children need at least 10 hours of sleep. Make sure she’ll be able to get the adequate amount of rest needed to be fully functional in school.
• The night before school starts, talk to your child. Before her bedtime, ask your daughter if she has any questions or concerns about school. Tell her what her day will be like. Remind her of her teacher’s name, and her classroom number. Also, tell her that it’s okay to be nervous on the first day of school. Let her know she will be surrounded with other nervous kids her age…and their nervous parents! Okay, leave the nervous parents part out!
• The first day of school. The moment has arrived! First things first, make sure she has a well balanced breakfast. Double check her book bag to make sure she has all the necessary supplies. If your daughter is being dropped off by her caregiver it’s a good idea to have a last minute pep talk with her. Let her know you’ll be thinking of her all day and that as soon as you two get home you want to hear all about her first day of school. If you’re going to drop her off personally do some mental preparing for yourself. You are officially releasing your baby girl into the hands of another. While all this time the thought may have excited you, the actual moment will catch you off guard. Whatever you do, do not cry in front of your daughter. This will make her more nervous and not want to leave you. Instead, bravely walk her to her class and let her go. Have your sobbing fest in the car…where all the other parents are having theirs!
There you have it! You have officially survived the first day of school. Afterwards, it gets easier for you and your daughter. The key is to prepare as far in advance as possible. You both have anticipated this day for some time, so make it a day both of you will remember for years to come. It’ll come and go before you know it. Soon you’ll have a routine down, but right now it’s all about preparation. The more prepared you are the better the transition. Now let’s go shopping…and please bypass the diamond plaid socks!