The retail stores have made it clear - the season is upon us – it is BACK TO SCHOOL. It may be regarded as “the most wonderful time of the year” for some, but for many it may be adding stress or anxiety as they prepare to send their littles ones off to school, perhaps for the very first time.
Lots of our parent friends have been asking us for tips on how they can help their little ones get ready for their first school experience or simply, how to ease the transition of going back to school.
As moms and teachers who have their own first day of school each September, these are the tricks we find most helpful in our own homes and our classrooms.
1. Don’t feel pressure to buy, buy, buy. You will see lists posted in retail stores, and be bombarded with commercials and flyers outlining essential school items. Save yourself time and money by waiting to hear from the teacher what suggested items may be useful for your child in his/her classroom.
2. Focus on footwear. Your child will likely need to have an indoor and an outdoor pair of shoes that he/she can play in safely. In our experience indoor shoes are best if they are a comfortable pair of running shoes and kept at school for the year. It is important that your child can manage them independently (if you can’t tie it, don’t buy it ☺ ). Please also consider that “light up” shoes can trigger headaches and make it hard for some children to concentrate during the school day.
3. Spills, slips and accidents happen. Send an emergency outfit with your child regardless of their age! We find it easiest to pack this in a large Ziploc bag, flatten out the air and zip it into the front pocket of their backpack. This will allow your child to discreetly change his/her clothes should there be a need, and prevent a phone call home or to your place of work for a change of clothes.
4. Label everything! Whichever method you prefer, whether it is an actual label or a permanent marker used to initial the tags in their clothes, put your child’s name on all of their belongings – one could do some serious shopping in most school lost and found bins! Do NOT trust your child to recognize their own stuff – it just doesn’t happen – trust us ☺
5. Stabilize the sleep schedule. We get it! From campfires to breakfast in bed, we fall out of routine during summer holidays. Don’t wait until the night before school starts to adjust bedtime and morning routines. The shock to your child’s system may cause some back-to-school chaos! Slowly try to get a little closer to his/her school sleep schedule by backing up bedtime and setting the alarm clock a little earlier each week to make it easier on the whole family.
6. Lunch bag basics. This is especially important for children just beginning their school experience. We suggest packing his/her lunch several times before school starts and sitting down at the table together. Be sure your child knows what a ‘snack’ is and what ‘lunch’ is; how to open and close the containers properly; that they have a limited amount of time to eat; and how to pack their containers back into the lunch bag. It’s important to check the school allergy policy and that you try “new food ideas” ahead of time so you feel confident in sending a lunch they enjoy.
7. They’ve got this! Begin the school year off with YOUR child packing his/her own backpack. We realize on the first day of school he/she may only have to pack a lunch bag and a water bottle but make him/her responsible for this task. As parents, we understand morning chaos and trying to get out the door, but don’t take the ownership off of your child. Feel free to double check what has been packed but understand this is an independent task when your child is at school.
8. Start smart! We understand a parent’s desire to take their child to school on the first day, or to do something special and out of the ordinary. But do yourself and your child a favour and start his/her regular arrival and dismissal routine on that first day of school (if this means putting your child on the bus and following it to school so you can be there for the opening assembly, then do it.) It may take up to a week to get back into the swing of things, however, the sooner you begin their “normal school routine”, the better!
We aren’t sure who we see more tears from – the students, the parents or the teachers?! Trust us, when you’ve waved one more good bye, blown one more kiss through the window, and the classroom door closes, your child will become so involved in making friends, talking about summer and beginning their new learning journey, that before they know it, and before you know it, the first day is over and the new school year is officially underway!
Breathe deeply – you’ve got this!
Carrie and Erin