- Ask about their feelings. Are they happy, excited, scared, nervous? Ask questions and really listen to their school experience. Empathize with them where appropriate and reflect and repeat back what they are saying. Understand where the struggles might be so you can step in where needed.
- Meet the new teacher if possible before school starts. Most teachers will be absolutely thrilled and excited to schedule a 1:1 session with their kids. This will help to ease a child into a new school year and ease the anxiety and tension they might be experiencing. They can familiarize themselves with their new surroundings and get that comfort before the first day.
- Normalize the nervousness. Everyone gets nervous before the first day of school. Even the kids the love it, still get nervous. It's the fear of the unknown about your teacher, the other students, the work, the environment - completely normal! Most kids worry they are the only ones experiencing this though and are afraid to talk about it.
- Share your own experiences. This relates directly back to the previous statement. Share your own experiences with them and times when you might have been nervous as well. Sometimes it helps to hear how someone else might have handled the situation.
- Find someone that might be in their class. If possible find them a friend. This might be possible in your meeting with the teacher. Find a class list and find someone that you can have them meet. Or if you're lucky enough, someone they know and are comfortable with themselves. It helps to face something new if you've got a friend by your side.
- Find an appropriate “good bye.” Often times "good bye" can be a trigger for kids. It seems so final. For those anxious kids it might be better to say "see you later" or even more specifically "see you at 3."
- If possible walk them directly in the first day. This is clearly meant for younger children. If at all possible, walk them in directly and that cuts down on the anxiety that happens in the mornings with all the chaos of other children and not knowing what you're supposed to do on the first day.
- Let them pick their own school supplies. School was by far the best part of getting ready for school. I got to pick my own things and build my own confidence through being an individual. Letting them be directly involved in the process helps get them more comfortable as well as builds confidence.
- Facilitate independence. By this I mean be more of a parent facilitating problem solving rather than problem fixing. Don't be the parent that jumps in to fix things, help them identify possible solutions to their problem and pick the best answer for them. Jumping in, especially with school problems, is a natural response but kids need to build their skills and learn to be independent.
- Don't cry at drop off. As a parent, we all experience the natural sadness of a child growing up and realizing they don't need us as much anymore. Our emotions and crying at drop off can actually cause more anxiety for your children who are very sensitive to parent needs and feelings. It's ok to cry, just wait until after they've gone.
- Be the example. Be a positive example for your kids especially in social situations. Let them see you introducing yourself to new parents and showing that confidence. Children watch everything we do and directly learn from our example. It might not seem like it, but they see everything. You being confident will help them build their own confidence and appropriate social skills.
- Become involved in their school experience. I am a working mom and pretty busy, but when my daughter starts school I will absolutely make time to be to school with her. Become involved through PTA or volunteering in a classroom. When they are older let them know you support them by going to all their activities. Make the necessary time for them to show them they are your number one.
12 Tips For a New School Year
The school year is quickly approaching again! This was the most exciting time of the year for me as a child, but starting a new school year can also be very anxiety provoking for a lot of kids. Here are 12 tips to hopefully make that transition as smooth as possible for your kids.