Lunch box? Check. Folder? Check. Backpack? Check. Sanity? What? Was that even on the supply list? What about the bus route? Pick up times, drop off times, and all sorts of things make the first days of school complicated for even the most experienced parent. However, it is even more hectic for parents who have never had to do it before, especially when they have never enrolled their children in daycare. This little checklist will help you get through those first few days and weeks with as little stress as possible.
Prepare everything the night before. Lay out the clothes, set up the backpack, and do any paperwork, like writing notes or, later on, filling out permission slips the night before. This way, you aren’t running around early in the morning, trying to remember not to forget anything. If your child is in preschool, you probably will not need to worry about packing a lunch. However, if you do, then do it the night before as well, and stick the lunch box in the refrigerator. This will ensure that anything needing to be kept cold, stays cold. This is an especially useful strategy for the working parent who must run around getting themselves ready for work as well as getting their children ready for school.
Establish a routine. Having a set time for dinner, bath time, TV time, and bedtime may be new to your child, but it will certainly help. A child who goes to bed late and has to wake up early will most likely fall asleep in class or have a difficult time paying attention. Getting your child on a schedule will eliminate a lot of these problems, and make for a more pleasant experience at home and at school.
Get your child comfortable. Watch programs about going to school with your children. Play school at home, and attend orientation. Orientation is a meet and greet where your child can meet his or her teacher and, sometimes, other classmates. On the first day, if you can, accompany your child to school and stay until you are sure your child is comfortable enough that you can quietly leave. If your child is supposed to ride a bus, drive them the first day, so that they feel supported. Talk to the child’s teacher about ways to make the transition easier for your child. Above all, keep a positive attitude, even if your child is upset. If he or she sees you upset, they might think that you are upset for the same reason that they are, and it might make the daily trip to school a lot harder.
Find time for yourself. If you are a stay-at-home parent, take a nap, read a book, or do something that you normally don’t get to do. If you work, treat yourself to lunch somewhere that you don’t normally go, or get a treat for yourself during your break. You should reward yourself for all of the hard work that you are doing, both at home and at work, and the first days of school are a good time to remind yourself that you have done a great job, and you have gotten your little one this far.
Communicate with school staff. Get to know the teacher, the paraprofessional, the principal, vice principal, and anyone who will have regular contact with your child. If the teacher provides you a phone number or email address, then use it, but do so within reasonable limits. Send in notes when you think there is something that the teacher needs to know about. This helps everyone get to know both you and your child better, and makes things a lot easier on both sides.
This little guide should help make things easier for you, and your child. If yo are relaxed, then your child will also be relaxed. If you are both relaxed, then things should run very smoothly. It still may be a little stressful and hectic, which is to be expected. However, following these tips should relieve some of the excess stress that you may be feeling.