Summer is almost over! Though parents breathe a secret sigh of relief, most kids dread the thought of going back to school. Whether your child is just starting preschool or going into her senior year of high school, the transition from summer freedom to the structured classroom can be difficult for many reasons.
This year my daughter is starting pre-kindergarten at a new school. With that comes the anxiety of the unknown; she won't know any of her classmates, there will be new teachers, new schedules and new things to learn. Though I'm hoping she's grown out of her teary phase and can put on a brave face when she walks into that classroom, I really don't know how she'll do on her first day of school.
To prepare for the unknown -- and help your kids transition from summer to school -- consider spending the next couple weeks doing the following, as I plan to.
1. Attend the school's open house.
Contact your child's school and find out when their open house is, or opt to schedule a tour before class begins. Take your child with you so she knows what the building looks like and where her classroom is located. Once there, she can meet some teachers and maybe even a couple new friends. These steps will help ease your child's nerves on the first day.
2. Save on back-to-school shopping.
Once your school has released the supply list, search online for coupons to score back-to-school savings from such sites as CouponSherpa.com. Armed with discounts, take your child shopping with you and give her the liberty to choose the pencils, notebooks, shoes and shirts she really loves. To save even more on back-to-school gear, check this list of sales tax-free holidays and plan your shopping trip accordingly.
3. Encourage self-sufficiency.
It's important to show kids (especially young ones) they're capable of doing things on their own, including walking into a new classroom bravely and confidently. On the first morning of school, let her pick out a new outfit to wear, help her pack her own lunch and let her pack her bag. Be enthusiastic about her choices and her ability to get ready in the morning. Keep up your enthusiasm as she gets on the school bus or as you walk her to the classroom.
4. Say goodbye calmly.
For the older kids a smile and wave goodbye from the car is borderline embarrassing. The younger kids, however, will appreciate your walking them to class and giving them a hug, kiss and reminder that you'll be seeing them soon. Hold any of your tears until you're out the door! If your child sees you crying, more than likely she'll start crying as well.
5. Take it easy afterwards.
The first day of school is over, but there's one more tip for surviving the first day. Plan on taking it easy for the rest of the evening. Start a tradition where the whole family goes out for dinner to celebrate back to school, and reference this list of restaurants where kids eat free to save on your kiddo's meal. Encourage conversation over dinner and get her talking about her first day of school. Listen to what she tells you and talk about it; remember she'll have many more school days when you'll both want to share the experience.
Maisie Knowles is a working mother of two with three-year's experience writing on parenting and partner issues. She received a B.A. in Communications from the University of Colorado and co-founded Kinoli Inc. with her husband. Maisie currently spends most of her time at home with her two young girls.
I'm a former 7th grade Science teacher turned stay-at-home mom that lives in Houston, Texas. I am married to my college sweetheart and have a beautiful daughter named Riley, who definitely keeps me on my toes! I am also involved in starting a small business which would both manufacture and sell an invention that I've patented, called Toothpaste 2 Go. I love interacting with my readers and hope to learn as much about you as you learn about me!