The article below is my contribution to our office newsletter ezine for the month of June. I am sharing it with the readers of this blog, especially those with first time school children.
The month of June in the Philippines signifies the end of summer, and the start of the school year. First day of school for first time school children can either make or break their general impression of school, and can possibly affect their future outlook towards going to school. A child’s anxiety and apprehensions can prevent them from having that good learning atmosphere at school. As parents, we can help ease their anxiety using the tips below:
1. Good night sleep.
On the night before the first day of school, parents should advise their kids to be fully rested by having a good night’s sleep. This would allow the child to be well-rested and not sleepy during his/her first day of classes.
2. Preparing A Day Before.
Since most first time school children are not yet that independent, parents usually still arrange their school stuff like school materials and uniforms. In order to prevent unnecessary rush and panic in the morning, parents should make sure that all the needed school stuff is ready the night before – from books and pens to shoes and uniforms. This will make the children more excited (than rattled) when they wake up in the morning.
3. Good breakfast.
Nutritionist all agree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Before sending the kids to school, parents should make sure that children eat a heavy and nutritious breakfast. An empty stomach would cause hunger pangs later in school and may prevent the kids from focusing and enjoying school.
4. Come early.
Being early in school on the first day does not only leave a good impression on the teacher, but it also allows our kid to relax a little longer before the actual classes begin. They can get a feel of their classroom, their teacher, as well as their classmates. It also allows us parents to stay a bit longer and check on how our kids are adjusting. Being early also allows our kids to choose their seats (if they are not seated by the teacher based on a certain scheme like by class number). This would allow them to be seated in a spot wherein they feel comfortable and at ease.
5. Sending something from Home.
For those kids with separation anxiety, try to bring something that reminds them of home – a small family picture, a small toy car or toy that he/she can keep inside his/her bag or pocket.
6. Have a goodbye procedure.
When it’s time to leave our little children, try to set up a goodbye routine or procedure. Like a kiss on the check with a pat on the back. This will allow the kids to be more comfortable when it is bye-bye time for mom/dad. Once we leave, let us also try not to go back. Kids may be upset at the start, but it is a good time for them to adjust to their new environment, especially to their new teachers or nurse aid.
7. Be on time during dismissal time.
Nothing would be scarier for a little child than to be left alone when all of his/her classmates have been picked up by their parents/guardians during dismissal. It is important for us parents to be prompt when picking up our kids during dismissal time, even at least during the 1st few weeks. This will make the child more secured.
8. Check on the child’s feelings.
Upon reaching home, parents should talk to their kids about how school went. We can ask them what activities did they do, and how do they felt towards these activities. We can ask them if he/she have already met new friends, and if the teacher gave them enjoyable activities. This kind of activity not only serves as a bonding opportunity between parents and their small kids. It also allows our little children to be open about discussing the things that they liked or disliked about school. When the things they dislike about school seem serious (a classmate who suddenly pulled their hair or collar), then it could be a red flag of pending trouble, and as such should be reported early to the teacher.
Whenever we think that our kids are just being clingy when they have their first-day-of-school anxiety, it is always nice to remember that we were once in their shoes. Our parents were just patient enough to handle our apprehensions. As such, as parents we should also make sure that our kids have a good start in school. :-)