The new school year is just around the corner, and as the summer days wind down the air is filled with the anticipation of the approaching back-to-school season. During this time, students and their parents often feel the apprehension and worry of preparing for school. Of course, we’d rather take advantage of these final warm vacation days and really enjoy ourselves, but the nervousness of the new school year is palpable. The best cure for this anxiety is to help ease the fear of the unknown by preparing for school. Set your children up for success by helping them prepare for this transition smoothly. Here are some tips to help you and your children experience this season bump-free.
* Display interest and excitement as the school year approaches. If you are enthusiastic and confident about the new experiences your children will have, they will be too. It’s contagious.
* Feelings of nervousness and worry about the new school year are common and expected. Take the time to discuss which areas your child is concerned about. Listen to his/her worries and talk about what to expect on that first school day.
* Another great idea is to specifically discuss with your children the various aspects and schedule of the school day. Some scenarios to discuss include the morning bus ride, what davening will be like, different subjects you anticipate they will learn, and the change of teachers during different subject times. You can make the discussion very detailed and really paint the picture of that first day of school. For example, chat about which familiar faces they will see walking into the classroom, who they will sit with on the bus and at lunch, what they will eat during lunch and recess, what activities will they opt for during recess time, and most importantly what to expect at the end of the day. Will they be picked up from school or take the bus home, what will your children find when they walk through the door – you waiting with a smile, a snack and a note on the table from you or a sibling or neighbor to play with. Remember, knowledge and familiarity is the sure way to extinguish the jitteriness of a new school year.
* Help your children acclimate to the school year routine and schedule. Have your children go to bed at “school-night bedtime” for a few nights prior to the first day of school and get up at the time they will need to on school days. This process will ease the adjustment and transition from summertime to school year schedule.
* Create a predictable routine during the first week of school that you will stick with throughout the school year. You and your children should prepare school clothes, book-bags, lunch, and snacks each night for the following school day. Also, have a set routine for after school hours. For example, decide how much time will be allotted to play and unwind after school; when dinner will be served; when homework will get done and a consistent bedtime and routine.
* Find out what materials will be needed for school and make sure your children are prepared with it on the first day. This may seem like common knowledge, but often in the rush to get everything done for school vital materials are forgotten until well into the school year. Having your children prepared with the necessary materials will help prevent anxiety, and empower them on the first day of school to succeed. Moreover, shopping for school supplies can be a fun experience if done with enough preparation (and without the stress that comes with last-minute tasks). These excursions are a great way to turn your children’s nervousness into the similar feeling of excitement for the renewal of the school year.
* If this is your child’s first time attending school, have him/her explore the classroom and school grounds before the first day. This will familiarize your child with the school setting and help reduce his/her nervousness.
Best wishes for a happy and healthy school year.