Break out the new backpacks, sharpen those pencils! It’s that back to school time of year (it does feel early, doesn’t it?). Many of the local school districts will start the 2012-13 school year next week. Preschools and Parents Day Out programs will be welcoming children to their earliest classroom experiences. Regardless of age, the start of new school year is met with a variety of emotions… the excitement of new friends, teachers, and a fresh box of crayons… nervous butterflies for the first day… the tired yawns of waking up earlier than summer… and, even a few tears (sometimes moms and kids).
Will your child begin a new school experience this fall? Parents Day Out? Preschool? Kindergarten? Even if it’s the same school and a new grade, children often feel anxious as they anticipate the first day. Sometimes, as parents, we’re nervous, too. Here are some ideas to help prepare your whole family for back to school and make the countdown to the first day fun.
* Play “School”: Take turns role playing as the teacher and the student. Act out common preschool activities and routines. Sing a hello song, read a story sitting on the floor, do a coloring page, have recess. If you have a child who is reluctant to leave you at drop off, practice this ritual together at home. Role play what you will say, what your child will say, what the teacher will say. Give hugs. Then role play your return at the end of the day. Often, practicing ahead of time will give your child a sense of control and will help ease the first day jitters.
* 3-2-1 GO!: Create a countdown system to the first day of school. Use a calendar and mark off the days at bedtime. Create a simple paper chain and remove one link per day. As you get down to the last couple of days, have a small wrapped item your child can open each day.
* Fashion Show: What will your child wear the first day of school? For many children (yes, even boys), choosing what to wear the first day of school is exciting. Maybe it’s a new outfit from head to toe, maybe just a new shirt or “school” shoes. Perhaps your child will be most comfortable wearing his/her favorite t-shirt. (Remember that PDO and preschool can be a messy business and that many preschools have a tennis shoes only policy.) You can even take pictures of several options and get input from others.
* Hello, My Name is..: Does your school do a preview day? If so, plan to stop by. Meeting the teacher and seeing the classroom will help build the excitement. Help your child introduce him/herself to the teacher. After your visit, talk together about the room, the teacher’s name, and imagine all the fun to be had this year in school.
What are you doing to get ready for school? Share with us in the comments.