10 Tips for Starting School for the First Time
It’s back-to-school season! Though traditionally some might think of this time as going “back to school,” for parents of young children this may be the season of sending your child off to school for the very first time! This is a big step for any family and while both parents and children might feel nervous about this new stage of life, following the tips below will help you feel well-prepared to approach this new and exciting time!
Tip #1: Don’t talk to your child too early about going to school
Young children live in the now. It’s hard for them to understand and wait for something that’s happening in four days, next week, or next month. Though you may feel excited about this new adventure, tamp down on talking with your child about starting school until no more than a few days before school starts. If you tell them they are starting school soon, they might wake up the next morning thinking it’s the big day!
Tip #2: Be positive
When your child starts school for the first time, you might feel a big jumble of emotions. While you are excited for them to start school (after all, you are the one who signed them up!), you might simultaneously feel hesitation, nervousness, and even sadness at your child moving into the next “big kid” stage of life. Be aware of how your emotions show on your face and in your mood. Your child is always tuning into and absorbing your emotions so make sure that you are communicating excitement and a positive attitude about starting school.
Tip #3: Be mindful of big life transitions during this season
When your child is starting school for the first time, it is best if you can wait on other big life changes such as changing nannies, taking a big trip, starting toilet training, moving, or transitioning them to a “big kid bed.” Young children have to process and adjust to a lot of new information in their life when they begin school; let other life changes happen after they have settled into the rhythm of the school year.
Tip #4: Pack your bag
Don’t find yourself stuck in an Uber or on the subway with a leaky diaper, sticky fingers, or a bored toddler. Pack that bag with all the important necessities including lots of extra diapers, like Healthybaby diapers, wipes, and a book or two to keep your child entertained. Healthybaby diapers not only keep the little ones dry and comfortable, but they are ultra-soft and sensory friendly. You might even throw in a small notebook and a few crayons, an extra sweater for your child or small blanket, or extra clothes.
Tip #5: Be on time to school
Dropping off your child to school on time matters, and it teaches them that school is important and allows them to practice the important life skill of promptness. Make a plan each school night: have backpacks ready, school lunches packed, clothes laid out, and water bottles filled. Wake up early enough each school morning to have sufficient time to get yourself and your child ready for the day (don’t forget a healthy breakfast!). Don’t forget to factor in plenty of time for the commute. When the morning is smooth and relaxed, and your child arrives at school on time, this sets the scene for a successful school day!
Tip #6: Tears are okay
For many children, this might be their first time saying goodbye to their parents and familiar caregivers. Saying goodbye to loved ones and staying in the classroom with their new teachers and classmates may evoke nervousness and even tears - and that is okay. Crying is a way for children to show their sadness and ask for help, and your child’s teachers are there to meet those needs! Trust that your child can develop new skills including resilience and independence, and trust that your teachers will also get to know your child and how best to help them acclimate to the new environment so they feel happy and safe.
Tip #7: Your tears are okay too!
Starting school is a big step not only for your child, but for you too! Parenting can be a long process of nurturing your child, then trusting enough to let them go. Starting school may come with a feeling of loss to you too - after all, your baby is growing up! Starting school is a happy time, but it may make you feel wistful at the same time and that’s normal.
Tip #8: Communicate with your child’s teachers
Did you child have a difficult morning and skip their breakfast? Were grandparents visiting over the weekend and your child stayed up late last night? Does your family plan to be away and your child will miss school next week? When young children start school, the partnership and communication between home (you!) and school (your child’s teachers and school administrators) is foundational. Communicating regularly with your child’s teachers about important information will help them best meet your child’s needs and support your family.
Tip #9: Make new parent friends
When your child starts school, you join a new community of families. Reach out to fellow new parents to make connections and bond over this shared parent experience. (A smile and a small hello to fellow parents at those school drop-offs and pick-ups will go a long way!) These connections will give you the camaraderie and support you might be looking for as your child starts the school journey.
Tip #10: Let go of what you know and embrace the new
Starting school impacts your family routine and your child’s development in a significant way. There are big changes all around and it is a bittersweet and wonderful time. Let go of what you know and be ready to embrace the beautiful and new!
By Rita Truong, Director of Small World
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