The Wheaton Blog
6 Steps to Prepare Your Kids for First-Day Jitters
Moving takes a toll on you and your kids. One of the hardest parts of moving for children is the first day of school. They have to make new friends, get to know their new teacher, and find their way around the buildings. Whether your kids are in high school or in elementary school, the transition can cause anxiety. Last year we wrote a blog about moving with kids that offered suggestions from recently moved families and what they did to create a smooth transition.
This blog goes further in-depth on how to help kids transition, specifically on their first day of school. Here are a few ways you can help your children beat the first-day jitters.
Practice the Route to School
To give your child an idea of what to expect on the first day of school, walk them through their morning routine. Go to the bus stop, then drive them to the school. Point out basic geographic locations on the way to prepare them if they ever get lost. Point out colorful billboards, shopping centers, or parks that they may remember later.
Talk with the new school to see if you and your child can come for a school tour. Most schools encourage tours to ensure new students have a smooth transition. As you walk through the school, locate homerooms, gyms, and the cafeteria. For high school students, you may want to find their locker and walk through their class schedule.
Occasionally schools assign new students a “buddy” for their first few weeks. Ask your child’s school administrators if they have a similar program. Having a buddy may help your child feel less anxiety if they know a classmate is there to help them.
Establish a Calm Morning Routine
Kids need plenty of sleep and food to deal with the stress and emotions accompanied with moving. Set early bedtimes and make breakfast in the morning to make sure they have the nutrition they need to handle the rigor of the day.
The more relaxing you can make the morning, the more your kids will feel prepared and confident about the day. Organize clothes and lunches the night before to avoid rushing in the morning. You should also wake everyone early enough so they have plenty of time to get ready. This time allows them to calmly prepare for the day and leave the house on time.
And remember to go to bed early yourself. This will help you be happier and more alert.
Make Friends with Other Families
Throughout the move, your kids will watch you as a model on how to socialize. Join a community center for a stress-free way to meet families. Or find a family in your neighborhood who has kids the same age as your own and invite them over for dinner or dessert. A dinner event will allow your kids to make friends in the comfort of your home and give them a familiar face in their new classroom.
You may also find activities for children in the community, such as summer camps or story time at a library. Look for outgoing, friendly children that will help your child adjust. You can also talk with a teacher or another parent to help bridge the gap for your child. As you socialize, don’t expect your child to talk very much. Most children assume their parents will take the lead during the socializing process.
Keep Contact with Old Friends
Help your child stay connected with old friends by throwing a going-away party. Have friends write their addresses and phone numbers down. This will give your child a way to stay connected once you move. You can also have their friends stay over for a weekend to keep your child’s spirits up after the move.
Consider visiting your old community if your child seems lonely. Remind your child that even though they moved, they don’t have to break ties with their old life.
Don’t be surprised if you initially see a change in your child’s grades. The change may result from different curriculum requirements, teaching styles, or the emotional impact from moving. Instead of reprimanding your child for lower grades, consider a more helpful approach. Talk with them and ask what you can do to support them. Taking time to help with homework can make a big difference on their stress and anxiety levels.
Make Your Home Their Refuge
Your kids need a place to go that doesn’t intensify anxiety levels. If they come home to stressed-out parents, they won’t feel comfortable in their own home. Instead, make your home a place where they can laugh and play. Laughing helps children relax and relieve stress from an unfamiliar school environment.
Play games with your kids and help them have fun at home. This interaction will give them something to look forward to if they have a rough day at school.
Use these tips to help your child transition to a new school and help your family grow closer together during this experience.