Maybe I’m just a little sensitive after sending the small people away to sleepaway camp…maybe I missed them madly and am just longing for summer to hang around. Either way, I’m finding myself taking quite a few walks down memory lane.
You see, my small girl is getting ready to start 7th grade (when did THAT happen??) and the small dude is now heading to 5th. And yet, it feels as though kindergarten and first grade were mere moments ago. The other day, a friend commented on Facebook, “Her face is changing. I can see the shadow of the beautiful woman she will become.” And though she is so right, and it is such a beautiful thing to say, I wept.
The growing happens so fast, but I still know how easy it is to be caught up in each moment, in each stage, hopeful you are doing everything right with them and for them.
Here I am preparing for my girl’s 7th grade year and I still think Back-to-School can be anxiety inducing – for both parents and kids.
Her eyes are still just as big, brown and inquisitive, her freckles still as adorable and her sparkle still as divine if not infused with a touch more sass and splash of impatience for me. But much of the advice I am giving myself right now is the same I offer many of you as you prepare to hold your little one’s hand and walk them in to school for the very first time.
7 Tips to Make the Very First Day of School Simple
1 Prepare with your School – Do everything you can to prepare ahead of time so school feels ‘familiar’ and both the school and teachers know everything they need to know about your child. Will the school let you meet your child’s teacher and see their classroom before the first day? Can your child see their desk and where they will leave their backpack? Does your child have any allergies the school needs to know about? Taking care of this ahead of time will ease your mind and your little one’s.
2 Talk to Your Little Ones – School is a brand new adventure…talk to your child about how they feel. Are they excited? Nervous? Downright scared? All of those emotions are normal…..for them and for you. Try to frame this experience as a positive one filled with new friends, fun (so many of their favorite things!) and in no time, they will be back home with you to tell you all about it.
3 Read a book together – Ok, the 7th grade – or middle school – version of this is that I love to keep encouraging her to read and as the time before school starts, I want her to get back in to the swing of ‘school’….but for you moms of new ones heading off to school, I want to recommend one of my favorites if you haven’t already read it: The Kissing Hand. It is the story of Chester Raccoon and how his mom helps to ease his fears as he heads off to school for the first time. It is perfection. (Go Mom!)
4 Go With the Easy Options – Think simple – velcro shoes if your child hasn’t learned to tie, clothes than make for easy trips to the bathroom and practice taking coats on and off and zipping up backpacks so those first days are entirely anxiety free (for both of you). You may also consider doing a ‘dry-run’ of your child’s bus route so they can watch for certain landmarks on their way to school.
5 Prepare in Advance – The night before the first day, set out their clothes, snack and backpack. In our case, it is a uniform, so there isn’t too much ‘picking’ to be done, but knowing we aren’t on the hunt for socks and shoes makes everyone feel more peaceful.
6 Create a Family Signal – Ever since my small people were itty-bitty, three quick squeezes of the hand has been our signal for I-Love-You. It is our way of communicating without saying anything and my way of letting them know I’m right there without a huge display of affection. That simple signal exists so they (and I) can take a minute to take a deep breath in situations when we both feel a little nervous. It also keeps them from being embarrassed by outward displays of affection from me.
7 Feel What You Feel – You might feel weepy or break down in full blown tears as soon as you have your child safely ensconced in their classroom. You might throw a party the second you have the house to yourself for the first time in years. No matter what emotion you feel – you are RIGHT. Allow yourself to feel however you do, hug that sweet one when they get home and know the year will likely go a bit more quickly than you imagine.
What would you add to the list? Heaven knows I’m always open to new tips and tricks to make the transition easier.
Good luck, Mom…to you and your kiddos.