If you’re reading this while lounging next to the pool or enjoying a sunny patio somewhere, we hate to burst your bubble… but the first day of school is just around the corner. Is your family ready?
It’s the understatement of the year to say that the last couple of school years have been challenging. Whether you’re a seasoned PTA parent or are sending off a kindergartener for the very first time this fall, both you and your children might be feeling anxious about the first day. With all the unknowns you may be facing this fall, there are a few things you can keep in mind to help your student (and yourself!) feel more confident and make a smooth transition from home to school.
Knowledge is power.
Queen Elsa of Arendelle might have gotten excited about going “into the unknown,” but for students preparing for the first day of school, it can be a source of anxiety. If you can, reach out to your child’s teacher before the school year starts and see if it’s possible to get together for a meet-and-greet or even to stop by the school so your student can see the classroom ahead of time. Find out what the schedule will look like on an average day: When will they eat? When will they go outside? The more your child knows about what school will be like, the less they’ll worry about what they don’t know.
Little conversations can help with big feelings.
First-day jitters are normal, and even older students may be feeling them this year. In the weeks before school starts, check in periodically with your child to see what they’re thinking and feeling about the start of school. (Bedtime, mealtimes, and even car rides can be a good time, depending on when your child feels most comfortable.) Let them ask questions, and work on finding answers together. Expressing their feelings — and having them acknowledged — can be a huge relief for a child.
Highlight the positive.
Fight first-day jitters by looking for things to be excited about! Make a list of good things about going back to school (seeing friends, meeting new people, favorite activities or subjects, etc.). Let your child pick out a favorite food to pack in their lunch. Plan some great outfits. Give them something to look forward to. (This works for parents’ jitters, too!)
Start your morning routine early.
School mornings can be hectic and stressful for everyone in the family, and the transition from summer schedules to the weekday rush is hard on everyone. Help ease your household into the school year schedule by making the change to earlier wakeups and bedtimes the week before school starts. That way it will feel comfortable by the time the big day rolls around.
Lend a teacher a helping hand.
In a perfect world, our schoolteachers would have all the resources they need to bring learning to life for our children. In the real world, we know that’s not always the case! This month, Ruggish is supporting educator projects through DonorsChoose.org, a nonprofit crowdfunding platform that helps public schoolteachers afford supplies, equipment and experiences to engage their classrooms in learning. Consider sitting down with your child and letting them help you pick a project to support. Helping out another class (or their own!) can be a great way to start the school year with a sense of purpose and community.