Alleviating first-day-of-school jitters
The first day of school can create butterflies in the stomachs of parents and children. However, following a few tips can alleviate feelings of nervousness.
August and September are prime months for the return to school. Whether this is a child's first time entering the classroom or he or she has done the back-to-school thing multiple times, it's not uncommon for feelings of anxiety to arise.
There are expectations and unknowns with each and every school year for both the students and their parents. Pivotal years, such as kindergarten, 6th grade for middle-schoolers, freshman year of high school, or the start of college can create added levels of jitters because these years mark entry to a new school or new routine. But keeping a few pointers in mind can alleviate some of the fears.
* Keep a routine. It is important for parents and students to get back into the school swing of things a few weeks prior to the first day of school. Start setting alarm clocks for the hour at which kids will have to awaken, and get them in the habit of rising from bed and starting the day. Try to schedule something to do each day that will be the inspiration for getting moving, such as school supply shopping. Take the carpool route to school, or find out where the school bus stop may be. These practice sessions will enable the family to decide how much time is needed to get ready in the morning and make changes accordingly.
* Mention school frequently. Begin talking about school and what is necessary to prepare. Be sure to talk about the more enjoyable aspects of school, such as seeing friends, participating in extracurricular activities and even the change of scenery school provides. Mention the things your child may expect. Hearing about school frequently can reduce feelings of anxiety.
* Visit the school. If this is the student's first time entering this school, you can take advantage of orientation days for new students or schedule an individual visit to the school. A tour and a meeting with the principal will also assuage some fears of the unknown. This can also calm any apprehension parents may have, because they, too, will know the layout of the school, its policies, and who will be watching over their children.
* Don't be nervous. Children often look to their parents for guidelines on how to behave. A parent who is overly nervous or sad about the first day of school could make their kids nervous, too. Put on a brave face and keep any anxiety hidden until kids have left for school.
* Be prepared. Gather supplies, practice the driving route, lay out clothes, make lunch the night before, get a good night's rest, and set the alarm clock. Knowing all of the controllable factors are handled can ease the mind of parents and students.
* Stay positive. Always keep conversations about school geared toward the positive. If children mention things that frighten them, calm those fears and show the upside to attending school. Provide examples of your own school experiences and how everything turned out for the best.
The first day of school can be a time of uncertainty for students and parents. Adults are facing a new stage in their lives, and children are awaiting a classroom of new faces and requirements. Preparing for the first day can alleviate some of the anxiety about heading off to school for a new year.