As fall arrives, so does the beginning of a new school year. Although the start of the school year can be exciting, it can also be overwhelming and stressful, especially for kids who are starting school for the first time or starting in a new school. Whether kids are moving up a grade or starting a new school, it means meeting new teachers, facing new academic demands and entering a new social circle, so it can create anxiety for the children as well as their parents. The following tips will help make preparing for the new school year less strenuous and more exciting. Get Familiar with the School
If your child went to the same school last year, you may only need to ask about the differences from last year. For example, does school start the same time as last year or are there any changes in the bus schedules. If your child is starting a new school, you should visit the school several times beforehand and attend the orientation or open house. A few weeks before the first day of school try to find out as much information as possible, such as:
- What the daily schedule will be
- What time school begins and ends
- Is a sack lunch and snack required or are meals are provided. If purchased meals are optional, how much are they?
One of the most important things to talk about before the first day of school is safety, especially if your child will be walking to school. Several times before school starts, you should walk the route together; stress the importance of your child staying on the sidewalks and main roads, instead of taking shortcuts through alleys or unfamiliar areas. Encourage them to walk together with an older sibling or a neighbor.
Check with the school to learn their rules regarding riding bikes to school. Many schools require children to wear helmets and have locks for their bicycles. Even if the school does not have rules in place regarding helmets, it is important to insist on your child wearing one. You should also explain the school’s rules and regulations to your child regarding bicycles and skateboards. If your child does not have a helmet, many community programs offer free or low-cost helmets for children. Before allowing your child to ride to school alone, make sure you walk the route with them several times to ensure they are aware of the stop lights, the safest route and where to store their bicycle while in class.
At some point, it is important to speak with your child’s teacher regarding your opportunity to come into the classroom. For example, if you have younger children, ask their teacher if you can bring your child to class and hand them off to the teacher, for at least the first week. This will allow the teacher time to distract your child while you leave as well as allow your child to feel more comfortable knowing that you are trusting the teacher with your child. Regardless of your child’s age, talk with the teacher about making visits to the classroom. For example, if you have concerns about your child’s interactions with other students or their teachers, visiting the classroom will give you an opportunity to view how your child behavior’s and actions. One of the most important things you can do when planning for the first day of school is to get on a schedule several weeks before school starts. Depending on their age, kids need between 9-11 hours of sleep each night. Instead of waiting until the night before the first day of school to enforce early bedtimes, start reducing their bedtime by 30 minutes to one hour each night. Children are typically anxious and excited the night before the first day of school, so it will be extremely difficult to get them to bed early without preparing them a couple of weeks ahead of time. Practice what their schedules will be for about two weeks before school starts. For example, practicing morning routines; eating breakfast, getting dressed, brushing teeth and out the door will give everyone time to adjust to their routine.