How to Help You Child with First Day of School Worries
The first day of school can be a scary experience for our children. They don’t know what to expect and above all there is the anticipation of being separated from mom, dad, and or caretaker all day with a whole lot of strangers! As the first day of school approaches parents or caretakers may notice an increased anxiety in their children including the onset of physical symptoms such as stomach and head aches. There are ways to help your child through this life transition that will calm not only your child, but you as well!
Be aware of your own feelings about sending your baby off to school! Most parents and caretakers do have mixed emotions that your child, who when it comes to parental emotions is like a magnet, will pick up on and replicate. You may be excited that for the first time in a long time you will get a break from the day to day child care needs while also being concerned about how your child will adjust to the new situation. You may worry about your child’s ability to make friends, listen to the teacher, complete assigned tasks, and the over all attitude of the teacher. Simple steps can calm you as well as your child about this new unknown world.
If possible, find out who the teacher who will be. Arrange a meeting ahead of time for both of you. If you can not actually meet the teacher, see if you can get an idea of the general routine for the class your child will be entering. Either way you will be able to supply your child with some information about what can be expected during the school.
You can let them know that they will spend time; coloring, learning letters and how to write them, or whatever you discover the curriculum to be for the class your child is entering.
Most fear and anxiety in children is about the unexpected. If they have an idea of what the day will be like, they can feel better as they will have an understanding of what will happen and what might be expected of them. Even if you can not meet the teacher ahead of time, see the class room or know the structure of the day, you will have a rough idea of what the school day will involve and can share that knowledge.
Another key reason for first day of school jitters is the child’s anticipation of being separated from caretaker in a new environment. Child who are experiencing “separation anxiety” often benefit from having or carrying with them something that is termed “a transitional object.” A transitional object is simply an item that they can have on their person, in their desk or “cubbie” , backpack or even lunch box that reminds them of you.
This item can be something as simple as a picture of their parent or caretaker, a note in their lunch box that says you love them or an item from home that instills a sense of security. While schools often don’t allow toys from home, something that keeps a child feeling secure can be kept privately in a back pack. Often just knowing the object is with them is enough for a child to relax.
Finally, remember, if you are relaxed about your child’s first day of school they will be less likely to display a lot of anxiety. Preparing by talking about it, and even “roll playing” can help to ease any worries. Letting your child bring along a picture of the family or another object of his/her choice will easy any anxieties about being away from you and home. Remembering we can’t always “fix” everything for our children and some of the success of the transition to school will be up to them, but we can help them prepare and trust that we have given them all the tools they will need as they enter into this new and exciting adventure in their lives!