Your child’s first day of school will probably be your most nerve wracking day yet, especially if they are your only child. You trust the school to nurture them mentally, emotionally and physically. It is normal for children to throw tantrums on their first day but sometimes, it can be you fighting the tears.
That said, you still need to do everything you can to ensure that your child is prepared for this new chapter of their lives. Children will have their doubts and anxieties of course, but it is upon you to make their first day less scary for them.
Here are a few tips to nail your child’s first day, and help them welcome the new environment better;
Visit the school beforehand
Most times, panic comes as a result of having to adapt to a new environment. You have to ask for directions to go everywhere and this is sort of torture. To avoid this feeling of newness, take your child to see the school before the actual first day. If possible, get someone to show you around the classrooms, playground, toilets, and other places you feel are important for your child to know.
Normalize the school environment at home through role play. Be the teacher and help them understand their role as the student. Allow them to also be the teacher so that they know what a teacher is supposed to do. This makes it easier for them at school because they know what to expect. They might even be excited to learn.
Your feelings highly affects your child’s attitude towards going to school. It is normal to feel anxious. However, don’t show it to your child. Instead, be optimistic and positive that everything will go well. Remember to assure your child that the experience will be exciting. Tell them of the new friends they’ll make and the new things they will get to learn. These affirmations make the experience less scary.
Go shopping for school together
Do not make going to school seem so serious. Bring out the fun in it, by taking your child with you when you go school shopping for instance. Let them choose a backpack with their favourite cartoon character, an attractive lunchbox, colouring books and anything that will get them excited about school. Get snacks too and inform them that they can carry snacks to school. This might as well keep them looking forward to that!
Have a goodbye ritual
Goodbyes are the hardest. You never know what to expect from your child. They could smile and wave at you or they could throw themselves at the ground and wail. Regardless of which path they take, how you say goodbye matters.
Do not sneak out as this will cause them more panic. Make them understand that you are leaving and that you will be back. When you come to pick them in the evening, reassure them that you will always come back for them. This will in turn help them loosen up with time.
Reward their bravery
The first days of school are a test of bravery for kids. When they get through the day, commend them for being strong and reward this with a treat. Take note of their effort and let them know they are doing their best. You being proud of them will help motivate them to go to school the next day, and the next.
How your child behaves on their first day of school largely depends on how well you prepared them. A well prepared child may enjoy the experince while a poorly prepared child will hate the experience. School is inevitable. Therefore, ensure that your child is positive about it.
Featured image: Adventist Health