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Surviving the first day

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In less than a week the new school year will begin.  All across southern Denton County, young children will experience their first day of school.  Returning students may be sad that their summer has come to an end.  To make the back-to-school transition easy, here are a few tips:

Prepare yourself. Before you begin talking to your child about the new school year, get yourself geared up mentally.  For some parents it is just as hard to leave their children as it is for the child to see their parent walk out of the door.  Children are intuitive and can read your anxiety.  So first of all, put a sincere smile on your face.  Then talk about the new school year heartfelt excitement.

Make school-shopping fun. It can be very exciting to have list, go through the store, and choose your supplies.  For some kids, the lunchbox or backpack is a big decision.  Be sure to shop where the selection is wide.  Allow your child to choose some of their favorite foods and drinks for lunch.  After purchasing new school clothes, try having a little fashion show and let them model for Dad or grandparents.  Take photos and put them on the refrigerator.  Allow your child to create a card for the photo and mail it together to grandparents.

Attend orientation day. Your child will have the opportunity to visit the classroom, teacher and other students.  In an abbreviated session, your child will locate their class, desk, cubby, restroom and cafeteria.  This brief familiarization time will ease the first day jitters.

Establish a school routine
.  The week before school is to start, begin going to bed early and getting up early in preparation.  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.   Begin eating breakfast together. At this time, you can talk about what the upcoming day will bring.  Similarly, have dinner together and listen to what your child has to say about the day.

Don’t panic if your child cries or needs to be pried from your leg and pushed into the classroom.
This scenario is happening in classrooms all over the country.  Remain positive and let your child know they will have a great day  Most of all, don’t be a helicopter parent and stand beside or just outside the door.  Make a quick exit with a hug and “I know you will have a great day. I can’t wait to hear about all the fun things you did today.  See you in a little while.”  Then leave.  Generally children will be re-directed by the teacher to a fun activity.

Surprise your child. Inside that first school lunch, make a smiley face on a sandwich or draw a heart on the napkin to serve as a small reminder of your love. 

When your child comes home, ask about their favorite part of the day. Explain that since they have worked hard at school, a special snack is in order – perhaps an ice cream sandwich, snow cone, or strawberries with whipped cream.

School will be an important part of your child’s life for many years.  So take the time to create genuine excitement about the first day and about continued learning  You will not regret it.  A positive attitude toward school and learning is a wonderful gift to give your child.

Deborah Herrington is the Montessori Teacher Certification Instructor at Collin College.  She is also the Head of School at the Montessori Episcopal School in Lewisville and has been in the field of education for thirty years.

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