Conquer the First Day and Week of School

A successful first day (or week) of school starts with organizing and planning. Physical and emotional barriers will get in the way. Here are some ideas of how to hurdle over them.

Physical Logistics

On the day before school starts, run through the morning routine with your kids and have them help you prepare the following items.

  1. Check that the bathroom is clean and there are towels, shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc. for each child (and yourself!).
  2. Layout each child’s outfit in an accessible and obvious location.  Put out everything they are going to wear in one place (shoes waiting out at the door if you’re a “no shoes” house).  If something needs to be ironed, iron it and hang it up now.
  3. Clean off the kitchen counter/table and layout plates, cups, utensils, and anything you will need for breakfast.  Put out your coffee cup and set up the grounds for the morning brew so all you have to do is hit a button.  If you can start breakfast food preparation such as washing fruit and putting it in a bowl. Cover it in plastic and put it in the refrigerator so it’s waiting for you in the morning.
  4. Make lunches and fill water bottles and put them in the refrigerator.  Have your kids do these tasks if it’s age- appropriate.  If lunches will include hot soup or macaroni and cheese in a thermos (meaning you need to make it in the morning rather than prepare it ahead of time), prep it the night before, so it is an easy process in the morning.
  5. Pack backpacks with everything needed for the first day and week. Then place them at the door you’ll be existing to get to school.
  6. If you drive your kids to school, make sure there is gas in the car. If your kids take the bus, walk to the bus stop and time it.  Make sure you have an accurate bus timetable and reinforce getting to the stop early just in case.

Emotional Logistics

  • Talking about what will happen and how things will go, assures kids and prepares them as to what to expect. Anxiety levels and undue fears can be avoided if we set expectations ahead of time and explain that we always leave room for change.
  • If any part of the process is anxiety-producing for your kids (riding the bus for the first time, walking into a new class, etc.), you can take the opportunity to role-play, practice ahead of time, or enlist the help from your child’s friend from last school year. Ask that child’s mom to have the kids support each other at gym time (playing together), at lunch (sitting together and eating) or riding together on the bus. Likely, your child is not the only child who is tentative or fearful. Band together moms and get creative!
  • Finally, take the opportunity at dinner time to ask your child what went well that day and what went not so well. Get excited about the good and brainstorm about the bad. Try a new approach, a new view, and a new solution. Focusing on both the positive and negative will give them a good perspective on the next day and future school days to come. Practicing this every night at dinner or bedtime will help trim their fears and toughen their problem-solving skills.
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