First Day Jitters: Top Tips for Preparing Your Child for Their First Day of School

By Aaron Swartz on August 20, 2022

With fall fast approaching most parents of young kids are preoccupied with the same thing: the first day of school. Whether it’s daycare, pre-k, or swapping to a new district, the first day can be really nerve-wracking for a lot of children, and just as hard on the parents. Your kids are about to step out of the nest properly for the first time, what should you do? How do you prepare them for the new experiences they’re about to have? To help you get your child as ready as they can be, here are our top six tips for prepping your kid for their first day of school.

1. Get Them Excited

The number one thing you should do to help prepare your child for their new experience is really simple: get them excited about it! Even adults know it, when you go into something expecting it to be unpleasant, it usually is. Conversely, if you approach a new experience ready to jump in and try everything, you’ll probably have a much better time. Talk to your child about what school will be like. Tell them about the exciting things they’ll get to do, the new friends they’ll make and the games they’ll play. Make leaving home an exciting adventure instead of a step into the unknown, and it’ll make it that much easier for your child to make the transition.

2. Adjust Their Sleep Schedule

A sleepy child is an unhappy child, so you should make it a priority for your child to be well rested before their first day of childcare. In the weeks leading up to their first day adjust their sleep schedule, by no more than fifteen minutes or so a night, until they’re waking up and going to bed in line with their school schedule. Children thrive on routine, so getting them used to sleeping a full night at the right time means they’ll be well-rested and ready to take on the day when it’s time to head into the world.

3. Practice Your Morning Routine

As we just said, kids thrive on routine, so getting them used to the morning before school routine is hugely important. Walk them through waking up, getting dressed and ready, packing up their bag, and doing anything else they need to do before they go to school. You can even hop in the car and drive them to the actual building if you want. Practicing this a few times will make the actual day much less scary for your child. They know everything that’s happening, it’s all familiar, so taking that one step into the new will be much easier and way less stressful.

4. Tour the School

There’s a chance you may not be able to do this, but most schools and childcare centers allow parents to take a tour and meet the staff there ahead of time. If possible, take your child on a tour and introduce them to their new teachers and caretakers. Knowing where they’re going and at least some of the people they’ll meet will help your child be ready for their new experience. The whole point is to take the scariness out of it, and touring the school is a great way to get your child more comfortable with being away from their parents.

5. Give Your Child Some Control

Now, obviously, you can’t let your child make every decision (at least, not until they’re a lot older), but one way to get your child ready for their first day of school is to get them involved in making some choices for themselves. If you buy a new backpack or lunchbox, let your child choose which color they want. If you need school supplies let them have a say in what you buy. Encouraging your child to make decisions and be involved does a few things. It makes them feel more in control of what’s going on, for a start, and also makes them excited to use their new belongings. Giving your child some control in the situation will help them transition more easily into the strange, exciting new world of childcare with a newfound sense of independence.

6. Read Books

Preparing your child for what’s to come is the most important thing you can do, and one of the best ways to do that is with fiction. There are a ton of books out there written for kids about starting school. Reading those with your child is a great way to get them used to what they can expect and help them combat the anxiety of the unknown.

Having your child take their first major step away from you can be hard, both for you and your child. Hopefully, these tips will help you prepare your kid for all the new experiences they’re going to have in a way that makes them excited and ready to begin.

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