Back-to-School Jitters – Tips for Parents from Caron Irwin from Roo Parenting
The long days of summer are coming to an end and back-to-school reality is upon us. This time of year is full of excitement in anticipation of seeing old and new school friends and picking out the best back-to-school gear but it can also be full of nerves and jitters as the first day approaches.
How Do You Prepare Your Kids?
It is important to prepare your children for the upcoming school year. Children who are prepared and know what to expect feel in control and when they feel in control they are better able to manage change successfully. Start to prepare about a week before the first day of school. Starting too early can cause kids to fret for too long creating more anxiety, and starting too late can make children feel rushed and overwhelmed.
Take your child to visit the school. Take your child to their school – if possible have them visit their classroom, walk the halls, check out the lunch room and spend time in the school yard. Children learn through their senses so being in the space, seeing the sights and hearing the sounds can often help them learn and understand what to expect. It is also beneficial to rehearse the commute to school. On the walk or during the car ride talk with your child about the number of stop signs that you pass or the streets that you cross. This familiarity can help your child feel more connected and prepared.
Go over the basics. Talk to your child about where they will hang their backpack, where the bathroom is, what lunch time will be like. Knowing the answers to these questions can help your child feel prepared and can also ease their anxieties because seeing your discussions playing out at school will be comforting.
Learn some names. Go over your child’s teacher’s name and some names of the children who will be in their class. This familiarity can help your child feel confident. It also means that you can give them a task for when they start school (e.g “Try to find Max at lunch time; he would be fun to sit with”).
Involve your child in getting ready for back-to-school. Including your child in some aspect of getting ready for back-to-school can help parents have a natural conversation with them about going to school and it can also be a positive activity that helps get them excited.
Establish and practice a back-to-school routine. Switching from the laissez-faire days of summer to a structured school schedule can be stressful to everyone. Avoid first-day-of-school chaos by practicing your routine the week before the first day. Create a routine and communicate it to your child in an age appropriate way.
Caron Irwin is the founder of Roo Parenting – a consulting service that provides support to parents as they navigate the ups and downs of raising their children. She is the mother of three children and a Certified Child Life Specialist with a background in Child Development and learning through play. For ten years, she has been supporting children and families through illness at Canada’s largest children’s hospital. She holds a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Studies from Ryerson University.
Caron Irwin | (416)559-0420 | firstname.lastname@example.org | RooParenting.com | @RooParenting