Getting ready for the first day of school
Another big milestone has arrived…your child is ready for their first day of school. You have introduced the idea of your child being able to go to school all summer long. You have bought all their school supplies and a cool new backpack. Your child is excited, you are excited, so everyone must be ready!
However, it is important to recognize that going into any new environment with unfamiliar faces can cause anxiety for many children. Do not be surprised if you find yourself feeling a little bit anxious as well. Starting something new, like going to school for the first time, does not necessarily have to be an anxiety provoking event for you and your child. Here are a few things you can consider when preparing your child for a successful first day of school.
- Motivation: Children do best with they are motivated. Some things to consider: is there something for your child to look forward to when they are at school. For example: is your child motivated by social interaction? There are other little kids to play with. Do they enjoy fun songs/art/ playground?
- Increase predictability: You can decrease anxiety by increasing your child’s predictability of what is going to happen in school. Collaborate with the teacher to get more information on what is planned for the first day of school. Let your child know what their schedule will be like – tell them what time school begins and ends each day. You can also arrange time to visit the school and meet the teacher before the first day of school. It is also very helpful for parents to get to know your child’s teacher. An open line of communication between parents and teacher is important in preparing a good school year.
- Your confidence shows: Remember that your confidence in your child shows and it also provides them with the reassurance that school is a safe place to be. Children are able to sense their parent’s hesitation, anxiety and fear. It is important to not let your own anxiety get in the way of your child’s success and ability to become independent. Encourage them to explore, initiate a conversation or join another child in play. Most importantly, give yourself a break too! Set something relaxing for you to do while your child is in school. It is a huge milestone for your child, but also for you as a parent.
- End the day positive: As much fun as school can be, it can also be very exhausting. Ensure the day ends positively – whether it is a huge praise, a big hug, or a favourite snack at home, it is important that children know how well they did and that they can always look forward to the next day of going back to school.
Finally, it is important to note that anxiety is experienced differently for every individual. Please feel free to consult a counselor or psychologist if you and/or your child experiences more intense feelings of anxiety in preparation for this big event.
Doris Bong B.A., Masters level Intern.