- Alex's Advice
- School Smarts
For students and families, every first day of school marks Day One of a new journey — and each student’s journey is unique. While one child may feel confident and ready, another may feel timid and anxious.
The success of Day One, and the tone it sets for the rest of the school year adventure, depends on the way those first feelings are supported and understood. Will that excitement find an outlet? Will that anxiety be calmed?
No matter what type of Day One student you have, there are ways that you can help make the first day of school a success for your child. Here are our favorite tips on how to prep for a perfect school year start:
#1: Sleep well the night before.
This goes for both parents and students — because nothing is better at promoting health, attention and self regulation than a good night of sleep. And because this is often easier said than done, try these healthy sleep habits:
- Turn off your screens at least an hour before going to bed
- Reduce distractions (toys/electronics/etc.) in the room
- Make the room more comfortable by adjusting the temperature, lighting, or adding a “white noise” machine
- Create a bedtime ritual that you will stick to each night (this can include bathing, reading, meditation, etc.)
#2: Prep the school gear.
Help your child pick his or her outfit the night before, and iron as necessary. Find a pair of shoes and place them by the door. Gather school items and pack them in your child’s book bag. Make sure everything your child needs to bring to school is in one easy, accessible place.
#3: Review, review, review.
Talk about the new school year and any changes happening with your child: repeat the teacher’s name and any facts you know about him or her. Talk about the class schedule and what to expect. Remind your child that he or she may feel different emotions during the day, and that any nervousness is totally OK.
#4: Send some of home.
Pack a picture card or a note in your child’s bag or lunchbox. When your child finds the note later in the day, he or she will feel more secure and connected to you.
#5: Limit the “firsts.”
Try not to make the first day of school the first day for everything. If you can, tour the school and the classroom and meet your child’s teacher before the actual first day. This way, your child will not find all of the new experiences overwhelming.
#6: Set up the social.
Coach your child through social situations. Start by identifying one child he or she remembers as a friend and remind him or her that the child will be there.
Give your child some cues on what to talk about with friends — such as, asking about their summer vacations, if they traveled, if they like going to the beach — and remind your child to listen to their answers before he or she starts talking.
#7: Pack the day with praise.
Finally, give your child as much praise as possible. Go crazy over every awesome thing he or she does as your family gets ready for school, as well as when your child comes home. There is no such thing as too much praise — especially on Day One of an epic journey.
Those are our top seven first-day prep tips — do you have any others? What helps your family kick off the school year with success? Add your ideas to the comments below, or join the conversation on Facebook.