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How to Prepare a Child for the Beginning of School

The beginning of the school year for children is always a moment for pause. While it is an exciting time, it can also be quite stressful for both the child and the parents. Good organization and planning will help, along with being alert for signs of a child’s unease and aiming to relieve any potential for distress.

Get to know your child’s teacher. It is very important to develop a good, open working relationship with your child’s teacher. That way, both you and your child will feel comfortable with knowing her or him as the school year unfolds. This will also ensure that your child is comfortable in communicating with the teacher when help is needed. Please be sure to have an ally mindset and not an adversary mindset when your child’s teacher reaches out to you. Treating your child’s teacher as an adversary will only build a wall that will make any future communication ineffective.

Obtain the school handbook. It is important to know the expectations of the school in advance. Ask for a copy and read it thoroughly. If you have any questions about the rules, the requests for money etc., ask them as soon as possible. It is also important to review the rules with your child so that she or he is aware of what is expected during school attendance.

Obtain a class schedule. If a written schedule is available, secure a copy for your reference. This will allow you to discuss the day’s activities with your child in advance. Try to link this with the things that you do everyday so that your child begins to see the connection between the daily schedules of activities and the routines you practice in life.

Be organized. From the start, it is vital to get into a routine of being organized, both for you and for your child. Together pack the backpack with the school items. Together select the outfit to wear (or lay out the uniform). In the morning (or better, the night before), it can be a great thing to start preparing lunches together. That way, your child has a stake in making healthy lunches and will eventually evolve into packing his or her own lunch a grade or so down the road. Early good habits last.

Reassure your child. Spend time together talking about school, about your own love of learning and about the friendships that develop at school. Boost your child’s confidence by telling positive experiences and of all the things your child will enjoy about school.

Be supportive but also learn to let go. Give plenty of hugs and reassurance but also be balanced and let go. If you have done a good job beforehand of emphasizing all the positives of attending school and you have involved your child in all the preparations, this should, and likely will be, an exciting and fun opportunity for your child. Tell your child you’ll be waiting for her or him at day’s end and don’t be late!

ONE LAST VERY IMPORTANT THING: put your cellphone away when you pick your child up. The last thing your child needs to see is your talking on your cellphone while he or she is trying to speak with you. If you do that, you are blowing it BIG and nullifying most, if not all, of the other things that you have done in preparation for your child’s school experience.

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