For those of us that are veteran educators, the start of the school year feels seamless and expected. There is a comforting rhythm that we have come to anticipate with particular rituals that signal that September has arrived. But, young children do not have the depth of experience to help reassure and comfort them as they navigate the newness of the school environment. However, there are some simple strategies that can help!
As you prepare your child for school this first week, remember these tips for a great start to the school year.
This is a tough one, particularly when your preschooler is crying or seems unsure. For a crying child, a simple “I know you are feeling unsure, but I am certain you will have a great day. I will hear all about your adventures when I come to pick you up” said in an upbeat and convincing way does wonders for setting the tone for the day. I sometimes advise parents to “fake it” by putting their own anxious feelings aside and giving their child the gift of positivity. The same is true for pick-up. “Tell me about something that you enjoyed playing with today”, is a great way to focus on the positive.
Also known as routine, structure or organization; consistency is vital for a good beginning to the school year. Start the morning or afternoon drop off in a calm, predictable manner. I advise allowing more time than necessary, so there is no mad dash around the house looking for a missing shoe, LANK bag, or treasured item. When picking up from LANK, take a few minutes to genuinely connect and listen to your child before embarking on the next activity. The more predictable routines are, the easier it will become for the child to acclimate and know what to expect. Keep at home routines similar as well, so there isn’t more than one major transition happening at a time.
Involve your child in selecting clothing for school, decorating a school bag, making lunch, or considering breakfast options. Choice provides a child with some degree of control which is especially important during times of transition. Plus, as directors and teachers there is nothing more endearing than seeing mismatched socks, or the occasional purple polka dot shorts with a striped tee shirt!
We wish all of our families a wonderful start to the school year, and hope that these tips strengthen an already robust and joy filled beginning.