It seems like it was only yesterday, as hundreds of school bells rang out for the last time in May, signaling the unofficial start of summer.
Time sure flies, right? As fast as the end of the school year came, so did the television commercials and orientation packets in the mail telling us to gear up for back-to-school.
There will be fresh faces abound, from students and teachers, to administrators and coaches. The first day, let alone the first week is both a very exciting but stressful time for some.
Got the jitters yet?
Kids from all grade levels and even college will be anxious on that first day. Parents will too, says the California Parent and Teacher Association, so what are the best ways to combat the jitters?
First is to re-assure your child and allow them to openly express any anxiety. Remind them that everything is going to be great, if you plan to pick them up that afternoon, pick a time and place on campus and make that promise. My parents and I had a system in grade school to meet up at the big oak tree in front of the parking lot at 2 p.m. so I knew they would always be right there. They are not the only students who are going to feel anxious too.
Next is to point out the positives. Your child will see their friends again (and make new ones) and share what they did over summer break. This is always the best part of a new school year. Gear them up for all the new things they will be learning.
As parents, it’s important to be prepared ahead as much as possible. Busy schedules can make this difficult, but making a morning schedule ahead of time will make the rush a lot less stressful. Start by preparing students to get into their bedtime routine now. The night before, lay out clothes and shoes so there’s no wasted time while fitting in breakfast and getting everyone in the car.
If your student walks or bikes to school, have a safe route in place and it’s always better to ride with someone else along. If needed, walk or drive your student to school on the first day to get their surroundings together. For bus riders, schools will give a bus route sheet with listed times, and this provides the chance for parents to get to know their student’s bus driver and a location on where to meet them after school.
For children with special needs, like medication, treatment or special needs, contact your child’s school in making sure those needs are met. If your student has a certain food allergy, talk to them about what foods in the cafeteria are safe and what should be avoided. Communication is key.
Emergencies are going to happen, so it’s important to have plans in place in the event that a parent is late to pick up or if no one is home. Are there neighbors or relatives nearby that can be Plan B? Tell your child the emergency plans so when something does happen, it doesn’t crumble all together. My parents and I had a system that if I ever came home with no parent there, I would stay at my neighbor’s home and had them call my parents to let them know. If they were late to pick me up at the oak tree, I would give them 15 minutes and then wait in the administration office.
Don’t fret kids, everyone up to the college level and even in the work force get first-day jitters! It happens to everyone, so don’t think you’re alone. Go enjoy your first day back at school and have a great year!