Preparing Your Child for Their First Day of School

The first day of school is a significant adjustment. Whether your child is excited or nervous, there are several ways you can help prepare your child for their first day of school. Try these tips as early as you can.

Set realistic expectations

Many parents are excited about a child’s first day of school, but the child doesn’t always feel the same. It’s normal for a child to be anxious or even scared about their first day of school. You can help your child deal with these emotions by setting realistic expectations. For example, you can tell your child what is likely to happen on their first day, and answer any questions they may have with age-appropriate honesty and compassion. This way, they can start getting used to the idea well before the big day.

Encourage conversation

When discussing your child’s first day of school, ask open-ended questions such as, “What do you feel when you think about going back to school?” or “What do you think you’ll do at school?” Then, respond with empathy and help them to find coping strategies. For example, you can say, “I remember being scared of talking to people during my first few days of school. Do you think you can practice by just saying hi to people when you get to your class?” Respectful conversation and discussing coping strategies will help them to feel understood, and more confident.

Start your school routine early

In the week or two before the first day of school, start slowly adjusting to your school year routine. If they’re already used to the new routine when school starts, they may have an easier time adjusting when the time comes. Some ideas include: have breakfast together at the same time each morning, walk or drive to school and back, pack their backpack, and prepare packed lunches or snacks.

Get your child involved

Encouraging your child’s participation and assistance in getting ready for the first day of school can help them more comfortable about the adjustment. Look for ways to give your child a sense of control about going back to school. Here are some ideas:

  • Go shopping for school supplies with them
  • Have them choose their own backpack
  • At home, encourage them to practice packing their backpack
  • Let them pick out one special school outfit or clothing item such as shoes
  • Read books about the first day of school together

With these tips, you can help your child prepare for their first day of school and become more confident for the big day.