For many kids across North America this will week mark the return to school. For children who are typically too young to stay up until midnight when the true new year arrives, September is, for all intents and purposes, the new year. Fittingly, summer is ending and fresh fall winds begin to blow. The first day back is particularly memorable because many things are new. A new teacher, new classmates, and a new curriculum. For some kids, even a new school. It’s can be exciting and intimidating at the same time.
Dr. Brian and I have talked about how academic success is strongly related to parental support. If you have young children and can manage it, begin the year by accompanying your young child to school. Easing the anxiety your child may be feelng is all about creating a smooth transition back into school. Your presence provides that link between home and school. Young children, in particular, will appreciate this.
At the end of the first day, take an active interest in their lives by asking how their first day was. The answers will range from details on a particular activity, to seemingly tangential issues, to a shrug. If your child has difficulty telling you about their day, give them prompts by breaking the day down for them (e.g., What did you do in the school yard this morning? What did the teacher do with you when you first got into class? How was your first recess? Who did you see? Which old friends did you see? Tell me about the new kids.).
Being prepared with school supplies is also part of helping kids make a smooth transition back to school. Teachers typically give plenty of notice as to what they would like students to come prepared with. Having these things ready can reduce unnecessary stress.
In the balance between excitement and intimidation, you as a parent, can help ensure that the latter does not overwhelm the former.
Do you remember your first day back to school as a child? Take some time to think about it. Placing yourself in your child’s shoes will benefit them and you.
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