Whether your child is starting kindergarten or ninth grade, it’s natural for kids (and parents) to have anxiety before the new school year starts.
Staring a fresh school year, no matter what the age, can conjure up universally held fears. What if I don’t fit in? What if I don’t make friends? What if I forget the combination to my locker or I can’t find my classes?
It’s the same worries that many parents may still find themselves waking up in a cold sweat over.
But starting a new school year doesn’t have to be traumatic for kids or their parents. All it takes is some advanced planning, communication and a positive attitude.
Here are a few important tips to help get your kids off to a great start in their first days back in the classroom.
Do Your Homework –
Prior to the first day of school rolling around it’s likely that you’ve gotten an avalanche of information from your child’s school about everything from health immunization requirements, to extra-curricular activities, to school supply lists.
Start a folder on your computer or in a file cabinet where you can keep all of this information in one place.
Use a calendar to set reminders of the dates various items in the folder need to be taken care of or submitted.
This will ensure that you aren’t rushing at the last minute to get things done which can add stress not only for you, but for your children.
Take a Tour –
Especially if your child is starting at a new school, it’s a great idea to take a tour of the school and visit before the first day of classes. This will give you and your child an opportunity to see where everything from the library and cafeteria, to the classrooms are.
Having a lay of the land before the stress of the first day begins is a great way to prepare your child for the school year. You may also be able to arrange for your child to meet with their teacher prior to the start of school, which can make them more at ease on the first day.
Talk it Out –
Along with planning ahead and keeping calm about the new school year, it’s also important to have a conversation with your kids about how they are feeling about starting school.
For younger kids, who haven’t gone before, their biggest fear may be being away from you all day. For older students, their anxieties may likely be centered on their fears over not fitting in. Find out how your child is feeling and help reassure and support them. Ask them what you can do to help make going back to school easier and less worrisome.
Help Them to Fit In –
Wanting to be accepted by their peers is something every child wants. You can help your child do this in a number of ways. If your child’s school has a dress code, take special care to follow the code accordingly.
While wearing a grey shirt when a white shirt is required may not seem like a big deal to you, for a middle-schooler it can be a source of discomfort or embarrassment. Making sure they have the required school supplies for their first day of classes is also a good idea.
Get a Check Up –
Often times it is required for your children have a physical prior to starting school, particularly if they plan to take part in sports. Along with making sure your child gets an exam and the appropriate immunizations, it’s also a good idea to schedule an eye and dental exam.
Children who can’t see the board will suffer in their learning and grades and kids with toothaches may miss classes because of the problem. Try to get these issues taken care of prior to the start of the school year.
Get on Schedule –
If your child has been staying up late all summer vacation, try to get them on a regular schedule of going to bed early at least a week before classes start.
Tired kids are not only more cranky, they are also more susceptible to stress. Get them used to waking up at a set time with enough time to have a healthy breakfast before heading off to school.
Kristy Hessman is a writer based in Northern California who often has dreams about forgetting her locker combination. When she’s not dreaming, she guest blogs at YourSash.com, a leading provider of custom graduation stoles and sashes.