By: Michele Timmons
Getting ready for the first day of school is always exciting and a bit nerve-wrecking for both parents and kids. As a child, I remember butterflies in my stomach as I went to bed the night before school started. As a parent, I recall watching my kids pack and re-pack their backpacks days in advance to make sure it was just right. I also remember my mom taking us to school on the first day and attending church with us too. (I attended a Catholic elementary and every school day began with morning mass.) She once told me that once all the kids left she stayed for a while and had a good cry – every year. Looking back, I sometimes wonder if her tears were sad or happy…hmmm ;)
Regardless of your child's age, going back to school can bring on the jitters. Here are four tips to help “erase” the jitters for you and your kids.
1. Ease into back-to-school shopping. One thing that causes back to school jitters for parents is thinking about how expensive back-to-school shopping can be. I find it is a little easier on my budget and sanity if I spread out our shopping. As August comes around, my kids start to get a little bored so they are more willing to take an hour to go shopping for school supplies or clothes. I generally take each of my three sons shopping separately. This strategy allows me to spend some one-on-one time with each son (which doesn’t happen often). It also allows me to spread our shopping over a period of 3-4 weeks, which minimizes the impact on our family finances. To save a little extra money, review the sale flyers for your favorite stores and shop there when they have sales on what you need.[Related: Tips for Making Back to School Shopping Better]
Tip: Before shopping for clothes, go to your school’s website and check for any changes in the school’s uniform or dress code. There is nothing worse than spending tons of money on school clothes only to find out later they don’t meet dress code!
2. Listen to and learn about your child's concerns. Sometimes back-to-school jitters are just jitters, but sometimes anxiety can also signify a deeper concern that requires more attention and intervention. Take time out to really listen to your kids.
3. Connect with the teacher. Attend any school open houses or meet-the-teacher activities. Bring your kids to those events and give them a chance to meet their new teachers too. Tell the teacher something great about your child and let the teacher know your child’s sparks.[Related: Find out what sparks are and why they're so important to your child's successful development in a free webinar presented by ParentFurther.]
4. Make the first day the best day. A positive attitude goes a long way towards making the first day a great day. Avoid cranky kids by easing back into a bedtime and wake up routine that follows your child's school schedule a few weeks before school starts. To diminish early morning stress, make sure back packs are packed, lunches are ready and clothes are picked out before they go to bed. If your child is a little extra nervous, put a little pick- me-up note in a pocket or lunch bag wishing them a great day. I always take a picture of my kids on the first day of school. It is a fun tradition and they get to show off any new clothes. Whenever possible, I take them to school that day or do something special for breakfast. We also try to have a special dinner that night so they can talk about their first day.
Back to school is an exciting time but can also cause anxiety. The best way to erase those jitters is through preparation and communication. By planning ahead, parents and children can get ready for school with a little less stress. By really listening to our kids, we can better understand our children’s feelings and help them address their fears.
For more great back-to-school tips, watch ParentFurther's archived August webinar, and get ready to face the school year with focus!
Do you have ideas for erasing back to school jitters? I’d love to hear them and share them with others.________________________________________________________________________
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