My oldest starts kindergarten this year, so the first day of school has been marked on our calendar for months. Sometimes I’m not sure who’s more nervous—the kindergartner or his mama! Whether jittery about riding the school bus, making new friends, or even (and I remember this one) wondering if you’ve chosen the right “first day” outfit, the start of school can be stressful for kids.
Family Fun magazine had some great tips for helping ease those first-day-of-school fears. Find their ideas (and some of ours) below—and then go enjoy the last days of freedom:
1. Carry a Keepsake. This idea was sweet and seems like it’d work for any age. One reader mom found a heart-shaped rock on the playground, took it home and painted it. She gave it to her daughter on the first day of school to keep in her pocket as a reminder that her mom loved her no matter where she was. The little girl carried the rock in her pocket for the first few days. But after she felt more comfortable at school, she moved the rock from her pocket to her backpack. If sending a rock makes you nervous, a simple note or sticker would work the same.
2. Write to the Teacher. My 5-year-old is a little shy and takes a while to open up to people he doesn’t know. That’s why I loved this tip about helping your child write a note to his or her new teacher. The mom who submitted the idea said that in her little boy’s letter, he tells his new teacher things he likes to do and his favorite parts about school. “This makes him feel that he’s broken the ice, and it helps his teacher get to know my sweet, slow-to-warm-up boy a little faster,” writes Marilee Duggan Haynes.
3. Ease Bus Worries. The protective mom in me feels nervous thinking about my child riding home on a bus. Karen Freeman in West Chester, Ohio, came up with a creative way to help her daughter remember her stop on the way home. She cut out a traced hand and wrote her daughter’s school on the thumb. She numbered the fingers, reminding her to get off at the 4th stop. I also like the idea of making sure your child knows someone else on the bus so that it doesn’t seem so unfamiliar.
4. Read a Book. When my little boy started preschool, his teacher sent a copy of the book The Kissing Hand before the first day of school. The story follows Chester Raccoon as he prepares to leave his mom for the first day of school. His mom tells him about a family secret called the Kissing Hand so that he’ll know she’s always with him when he’s scared or alone. For my kids, stories are a great way to talk about things that make them nervous.
5. Start a Countdown Calendar. For younger kids who don’t have a strong concept about time yet, a countdown calendar can help them feel more informed about the approaching Big Day. Simple construction paper chains or tear-off calendars are a good visual to prepare kids for the exciting school year ahead.