Back to School Tips
by Kelly Lizardo
It’s that time again! Bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils, cooler(ish) weather, and a large dose of stress. Back to school can be an anxious and challenging time, but this advice may give you some respite and help navigate you through the chaos.
Whether this is your first time sending your little ones to school, or this isn’t your first rodeo, here are a few tips to help you and your kiddos transition from summer to school time.
Build slowly to get your kids back into a schedule and routine. Summer can be a great time to relax a little and lay off the regimented schedule that we thrive on during the school year. Do your kids (and yourself) a favor in trying to get them back into routine by slowly moving bedtimes back a little at a time and by waking them up fifteen minutes earlier each day. By the time the first day comes around you will all be more adjusted to a schedule that will prevent first day crankiness.
When it comes to a first time separation or a child who has a tougher time separating from their caregiver, it can be extremely challenging on both child and adult. Reassure your student that they will have a great day ahead of them filled with fun, learning, and challenges, but that you (or a loved one) will be there at the end of the day to pick them up. Make sure to resist the temptation to sneak out the classroom door when your child isn’t looking, and rather say a nice, quick, and firm goodbye before you leave. Though your child may feel stress as you leave, they will be more trustful if you are honest in your departure rather than causing them panic when you sneak out the door. Be confident! Your child will model your behavior, so if you are a crying mess, they will be too! Save your tears for a time when you can be by yourself.
School supplies are a lifesaver! If a teacher has a specific list, try to stick as close to that list as possible. Even though it may seem a little outrageous, your teacher has worked really, really hard at coming up with a list that will help your child through the year and will save their own sanity. Guaranteed, your teacher is spending a ton of their own money to supply their classroom, so definitely buy what is on the list and if you are able, offer to send in donations whenever you can. Volunteering is appreciated also! Whether you can be a presence in the classroom, serve on a board for the school, or take home materials, your child’s teacher will appreciate any help you can give!
Make the morning easier for everyone involved! Set out your clothing, plan and prep lunches and snacks, and bag up any school supplies you may need the night before. This makes the morning run much more smoothly for everyone. Bonus: plan and prep breakfast as much as possible, too! When the morning runs smoothly, the mood of the day will follow. Set your family up for success!
If your child has never been in a school setting previously, or your child has moved into a new area or is moving from one school to another, anxiety and nervousness may run high. Be sure to take opportunities to talk to your child about the changes in store and assure them you will be there as much as you can for them. Reassure them that their teachers and the administration will be there to help them and that if they remain kind and confident that their peers will respond positively, which will set the foundation for new friendships and experiences. If they still seem to be harboring some deep fears about the first day of school, talk with them directly to see what may be going on. Listen to, name, and validate their fears. Assure them that no matter what, you will be there for them to help, no matter if it is with first day jitters or any other issue that may arise. Hearing them out and letting them know that they have been heard and understood without judgment is extremely comforting and builds confidence. If any issues do arise, do your best to remain diligent and take care of problems quickly. Reach out to the other parents in the classroom, to teachers, and to administration to help you establish a community and to help with any needs.
Have a wonderful school year!
Kelly Lizardo, MA
Jackson State Preschool Teacher