You’re off to great places. Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting so get on your way. ~Dr. Seuss
As aisles and shopping carts fill with back to school supplies, visions of going back to school fill children, teachers, and parents minds.
With every new, bright and shiny folder, pencil, and backpack are children, teachers, and parents’ tummies bouncing with butterflies. Jitters of excitement and anxiety rise as the first day of school approaches.
Whether your child is in preschool, kindergarten, or high school, they are excited but also apprehensive about going back to school. This is perfectly normal. The newness and thought of reconnecting with friends brings excitement. On the other hand, the newness and uncertainty brings anxiety.
(I’ll let you in on a little secret. Teachers have first day jitters too. Teachers excitedly prepare for students, and eagerly look forward to meeting them, but they are also nervous. They are nervous about the new families they will be working with. They’re hoping for a wonderful partnership, because after all, most teachers believe parents are their child’s number one teacher. Teachers want a positive partnership with parents so that the children benefit most.)
Here are 3 keys to easing your child’s back to school jitters:
Right before school starts, your child will have many questions. Take time to listen. Take the time to communicate excitement and fears. If your child is like my children, they will usually want to discuss things at bedtime. I promise that this is not a ploy to stay up later. Instead, it is a time when their minds finally wind down enough to think about the things they want to talk about. Be sure to make time to listen.
Communicate with the school and teacher ahead of time. If you know your child’s teacher before the first day of school, schedule an appointment so your child can see the class and their teacher ahead of time. Communicating with the teacher shows the teacher that you are engaged and you care.
Connect to Literature
Whether it is losing the first tooth, losing a pet, getting a sibling, potty training, or going to school, there are children’s books for these topics. I love to relate literature to life experiences and discuss them. It makes the situation relevant for our children, and it encourages the love of reading. There are numerous books on the topic of going back to school. First Day Jitters by Julie Danneburg is one of my favorite books to read small children. However, there are books for all ages. So, grab a book and read together relating the experience to your child’s life which will ease the jitters.
In my family, every year after the first day of school, I took my children out for an enormous ice cream sundae. (We even did this when we home educated.) They looked forward to this tradition. It was our way of celebrating their first day of school. We were fortunate enough to live in Germany. When we lived there, we took part in the wonderful German tradition of giving our children a Schultüte (School Cone) on their first day of school. It’s a big cardboard cone, prettily decorated and filled with toys, chocolate, candy, school supplies, and various other goodies. Having these celebrations to look forward to created exciting jitters while easing anxiety jitters.
After the first day of going back to school, the jitters will subside and your children will settle into a routine. Remember to keep communication open with your child and the teacher, connect new situations to literature, and to celebrate your child’s milestones. This just might be the best going back to school year yet.
Pamela Hall is a mom and the founder of Literate For Life. Their mission is to educate, encourage, and empower people, particularly children, to be literate for life through their blog community and relevant, applicable seminars and programs.
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