From the start of kindergarten to the last year of high school, the first day of school can be nerve-wracking and difficult both for kids and parents. But there are ways to make the back-to-school transition easier and to set up kids of every age for a great new school year.
Talk to your child about what to expect: It’s going to be their first day, and if they’re not used to being away from you, it can be overwhelming for them. Over the summer, make sure to chat with them about what to expect, and go over it all again that morning too.
Take your child to meet their teacher first: Meeting their teacher ahead of time can help ease your child’s first-day anxiety. A lot of schools have a meet-the-teacher day in the summer so your child can get to know their classroom.
Don’t prolong the drop-off: No doubt this day will be emotional for you, but you don’t want to pass on your anxiety to your child. When you drop them off at school, give them a quick hug and goodbye, and don’t make it any longer than that.
Grades one to six
Have your child lay out their clothes the night before: The last thing you want is for your child to be rushed and stressed out their first day back to school. Encourage them to get into the routine of choosing their clothes and laying them out the night before.
Get your child into a sleep routine before the school year starts: Summertime usually means a more relaxed bedtime, but start your child on a solid routine a few weeks before school begins. This will help ease waking up earlier and prepare them for longer days.
Choose your words carefully: We all know that back to school usually means some added stress for parents, but it’s important to not let that show to your child. Put a positive spin into your reminders that school will start soon, such as “you get to go back to school soon” instead of “you have to go back to school soon.”
Grades seven to nine
Allow your child to choose their first-day-of-school outfit: At this age, kids are concerned about the latest trends and fitting in. To make the back-to-school transition easier on them, let your child choose what they want to wear on the first day back (as long as the outfit is appropriate).
Take your child shopping for back-to-school supplies: Just as they are with clothes, preteens are aware of what school supplies they want to have. In their eyes, there’s likely to be a huge difference between the black binder they wanted and the blue one you got them.
Encourage an early bedtime: While kids this age don’t want to go to bed early, emphasize to them how they need to get enough sleep to feel energized for the first day back to school.
Encourage your teen to have a good breakfast: Many teens like to rush out the door on an empty stomach, leaving them with little energy for the day. Encourage them to eat a well-balanced breakfast to start the year off right and with a lot of energy.
Map out classrooms before school starts: For students new to high school, being in a larger school can be intimidating, and having to find multiple classrooms can sometimes be hard to do. Help them map out their classes ahead of time to ease some of their “where do I go?” anxiety.
Give your teen extra time: Make sure your teen has enough time the night before and the morning of to get all their stuff together, and leave for school a little early. This will help ease any stress over being late or forgetting things.