First day of school jitters are a normal right of passage, but for kids experiencing their first day of school ever, parents can do a lot to set the tone for years of happy school days ahead.
“Send the message that you’re confident,” said Oak Bay Parent Owned Preschool teacher Amy Grbavec. “If you exude an air of confidence about preschool or school, your child will feel that and they will have the same confidence about school.”
As an early childhood educator for 23 years, Grbavec has some experience with ensuring a smooth transition to school.
“As parents, we’re excited about this new stage in our child’s life. But it’s very abstract to children,” she said.
She lists a variety of ways to ease your child into a new learning environment. “Read books about it, ***Maisie Goes to Preschool is a good one, ask the librarian for suggestions.”
She also advises moving bedtime back, so your child is well rested for school.
“About two weeks prior, start tapering your bedtime routine. Most people are in summer mode so you need to transition to an earlier time, just five or 10 minutes a day. A rested mind is a rational mind,” she said.
Having a well thought out bedtime routine is also helpful for young children. “It’s important for their security, they have a bath, maybe you read them a book and they know what comes next.”
Planning the morning routine is just as important. “Try to make it as stress-free as possible. Having things ready the night before is a big help.”
Parents can help by promoting self care as well, that means letting kids choose new shoes and snack kits for school. “They feel empowered and a sense of freedom when they can untie or unvelcro their own shoes. … Make extra time for those kind of things that they may need to do at school. If your school has indoor shoes and outdoor shoes, let them choose a new pair of shoes – how exciting is that?”
Those few small things will help them feel empowered and special during their time away from their parents.
Be prepared for pick up time as well. “Have a snack and a drink ready. They may have had snack time at school, but that doesn’t mean they ate anything. And don’t plan too many new things. Wait a month until you put them in swimming lessons or soccer, or keep it to Saturdays.”
Be patient and keep a positive attitude toward school yourself and your kids should follow suit.