How to Prepare Your Student for the First Day of School
The first day of school is exciting, yet nerve racking. Exhilarating, yet draining. It’s so much good, yet so much craziness juxtaposed into one. We hear a variety of responses from parents when asked how their students feel about the upcoming school year. Some students are beyond excited- talking about the return of school since the day they left. Some are indifferent, just wanting to get back into the flow of friends and assignments. And others are dreading the return, whether that be the hardship of relationships, the onslaught of assignments or just the dread of the ending summer. Regardless of where your student sits, there is no right or wrong way for them to feel- but there are ways you can prepare them to have a better first day back. How you do that actually looks very similar across all grade levels and situations.
Model Excitement for the New School Year
Kids pick up on their parent’s mood more easily than you think. Because balancing work and family life can already be stressful, adding school to the schedule is sure to shake up some things. If you’re stressed about getting the kids to school, preparing breakfast and lunches and the new pressure of keeping your kids on top of their school work, your student will pick up on that. Days or even months before school starts, mentally or physically prepare yourself for the change so that you can transition with more ease. Help pump up your students by getting excited about learning or being back with their friends. You are a major source for your student’s attitude towards school so release any pressure from them to do great during the year and emphasize fun. You’ll find them more excited to start school and become the natural learner they’re born to be.
Night Routine Before The First Day of School
Sleep is an easy sell to parents, but for students, especially before the first day of school, it’s much harder. That’s why it’s important to ease into a nightly decompression before falling asleep. Set an ideal bedtime for your student by choosing a time that will give them at least 8 hours of sleep so they can have the maximum rest before their big day. Once you set your bedtime, begin winding down the night. This can look like ending screen usage, turning off lights, and playing slow music at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Relaxing before bed can be difficult at best, but it doesn’t have to be a battle. Students crave routine, and at night time especially a routine will signal to their bodies that the daytime activities are over, thoughts can begin to calm, and sleeping is a gift. Oh- and don’t forget to set at least 2 alarms!
Morning Routine on The First Day of School
Good morning! There’s nothing quite like waking up feeling the joy and anticipation of a big and paramount day ahead! After you’ve hit snooze one too many times, ensure your student is awoken gently, yet feels the excitement for a big day. Allow your student to choose an outfit that makes them feel confident yet comfortable. Try setting out an outfit the day before even, as it might make them feel a little less anxious and you can use it as a way to let them sleep in a few minutes more. As you pack their lunch, we recommend choosing their favorite snacks, protein, and drinks, and most importantly, a piece of delicious candy (maybe avoid melty chocolates). And for the first day, don’t forget to include a special hand-written note for a mid-day boost. Make sure to leave on time for school, calculating any school traffic as well as time for your student to find their classes or locker if applicable. When students know where they need to go and where everything is, it will help them feel less anxious about the day.
Be Present During Classes
Now that you have done everything in your power to get your students prepared for school, it is time for them to take full responsibility for how the rest of their day goes. Students can be taught how to learn- meaning as parents you can give students tips and tricks on effective ways for them to retain more information. For example, when students arrive to class, encourage them to talk to their teacher. Introduce themself and tell them what they’re excited about learning. Building a teacher-students relationship will make your student feel safe in their classroom, and opens endless doors for learning. Encourage your student to pay attention by participating in class. The first day of school is often a great time to participate, though there usually aren’t any lectures or classwork, they can ask questions and share when given the opportunity. Participating in class gets easier the more you do it, and harder the longer you wait. So take advantage of the day by being an active participant early on.
Make New Friends!
Forging new friendships can be easy, but it can also be difficult. As parents, we often stress about our student’s social life and how they are communicating and building relationships with others. On the first day of school, encourage your students to meet new people. Though it can be a cliche, reminding your student to be social and “make new friends” is not just water under the bridge. Students retain this information and associate it with doing something positive. So maybe one day when the time is right, they will introduce themselves to a new person, and it will feel really good. There’s no pressure to have friends for the introverted student, but you’ll see that even having one pal or one conversation with someone can have an impact on how they feel about going to class in the long run. As parents you can help create conversation starters or even practice with them; students can talk about their summer, which is an easy and interesting conversation to have, especially with someone new. Or they can talk about their classes, the upcoming school year, or if they have any hobbies or interests. Conversations can be intimidating, but when you present options for topics, it can help eliminate the nervousness and help your student break out of their shyness.
Relax and Unwind
The end of any day is tiring, but the end of the first day of school is going to feel extra exhausting. Students’ bodies and emotions have been racing for days, and now that the day is over, they’ll most likely feel a mental and physical crash. Ask them about the day, but don’t push or interrogate- it was an extra long day and they may need plenty of time to just decompress. They may just want to watch some TV, play some games, grab a snack, and lounge on the couch to unwind. Or they might want to talk non-stop about it! Being an ear for their voice is a great way to support your learner and help them feel accomplished for completing their first day back at school.
For your student, going back to school may always be accompanied by a certain level of nervous excitement or anxiety. But as a parent, you can minimize this fear by being positive, and help them discover new and exciting perspectives on being in the classroom. While there’s a lot to handle on your first day, make sure to take time to relax and settle into what will be you and your student’s new routine for the school year. With some preparation, optimism, and a big smile, there’s no reason why your student shouldn’t have fun on their first day!