6 Tips for a Successful First Day of School

Aug 13, 2019 by

The first day of school is filled with a mix of feelings from excitement and anticipation to anxiety and uncertainty. And that’s just for the parents! Whether your child is entering Kindergarten, high school, or dorming at college, they’re bound to need a certain level of support and encouragement on their first day. So, what can you do to help make their experience more positive? Keep reading for tips on making your child’s first day of school as rewarding as possible.

Attend Open House

Most schools offer some type of open house or “meet and greet” where students have the opportunity to see their classroom, meet the teacher, and lay an eye on a few potential classmates and friends. This is an invaluable event for new and nervous students. It helps them get a lay of the land and feel more comfortable and confident about finding their appropriate classroom on the first day. We all like a familiar face. Name tags are a great addition, too! See here what teachers and students can wear to help get to know one another. Open house lets your child meet their teacher and some of the students in their class. This makes the first day a little less scary and uncertain. Feelings of the unknown can be difficult for young learners to handle and overcome. Open house also allows parents to put a name to a face when it comes to their child’s teacher. Shake their hand, introduce yourself, and start your relationship off on the right foot.

Buy School Supplies Together

The more involved your child feels with the entire school experience, the better. Most schools provide a supply list. Once you have this in hand, head to the store together. Let them choose which folders, pencil cases, and coloring tools they want (as long as they fall in-line with the school requirements). Not only is this a great way to ensure your child knows what items they’re responsible for and will be using, but it helps get them excited about the whole experience. Some children get extremely excited over shiny, new school supplies. Play this up and let it add to the excitement of the first day. Make the shopping trip even more fun by splurging on ice cream or luncha after. All of these things help create a positive aura around the entire school experience. 

Send Along a Reminder

This is an especially helpful tip for young students anxious about being away from mom or dad. After all, more and more schools are switching to full-day Kindergarten programs. This means anywhere from 6 to 8 hours away from home. This can be very overwhelming for young students. If your child is expressing nervousness over missing you, try sending along a reminder. Items like stuffed animals or favorite blankets should be left behind for your child to snuggle at the end of their day. But that doesn’t mean you can’t add a heartfelt note in their lunchbox or snack. Why not tuck a family photo into their backpack or folder? If your child does best with physical connections, make matching bracelets that your child can touch or play with everytime they think of you. Knowing you’re wearing the same bracelet and doing the same thing may offer a certain level of comfort to help get them through the day.

Communicate with the Teacher

As a parent, your most valuable asset is the teacher. The relationship between home and school is an important one. After all, your child spends a majority of their awake hours at school. If they’re struggling emotionally, academically, mentally, or physically, the teacher may be the first person to notice. And they’re your first line of defense against any underlying issues. As mentioned earlier, attending the open house is a great way to extend the olive branch. Follow-up with an email or friendly note to share your contact information. If possible, volunteer to be a classroom parent or attend special events and celebrations. The more involved you are in your child’s educational experience, the more secure and supported your child will feel. Your also showing their teacher that you’re a proactive parent and active participant in your child’s success. 

Find Out What Resources are Available

Don’t stop at connecting with your child’s teacher. Most schools have a family resource center, filled with literature and contact information for a wind range of resources. One of your first stops should be the guidance counselor’s office. Does your child need extra support, either emotionally or academically? Do they struggle to identify and navigate their feelings? Or are certain things going on at home that might negatively affect their learning abilities? A guidance counselor, or resource officer, can help. They can also put you in touch with other professionals skilled in identifying and addressing student needs.

Be Present at Drop-Off and Pick-Up

While this isn’t always possible for working parents, being present during drop-off and pick-up is an important component in your child’s academic success. Their sense of security and stability starts at home. They blindly trust you to place them in a safe, positive environment. A parent wouldn’t drop their young child off somewhere that they didn’t think was safe. Subconsciously, your child feeds off of you. If you happily drop them off at school each day or at the bus stop, without fear or worry over their safety, they will feel a certain level of security. On the flip side, if you seem anxious, unsure, or sad, they’ll think there’s something to fear. This is the last thing you want! Even if you’re nervous, you need to put on a positive, brave face for your child. The same goes for pick-up. Even if you can’t physically pick your child up at school after the last bell or be at the bus stop every day, entrusting them with a babysitter they know or in a quality after school program will add another level of stability to their school day. Take the time to chat with them (uninterrupted) about their day. Ask what learned and what their favorite part of the day was. Even just asking if there’s anything they want to discuss is a great place to start. 

While your child’s first day at school may seem like a monumental event at the time, it will be a small blip on the screen in a few months. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t offer your child the support and encouragement they need to succeed. Try utilizing a few of these tips and watch your child’s soar!

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