Back to school nerves

My little boy started kindergarten this week.  I can hardly believe it.  He looked so cute walking to school with his new backpack with his name on it.  He was so nervous at first, saying he didn’t want to go, but then when he saw the other neighborhood kids walking to school, he got right into it.  Once there, he was a little nervous again, but by day three, he was wondering when he could stay for a full day (this first week was only half days).

I did learn a few things that I thought helped calm his nerves during this process.  I thought I’d share them and then ask you for any pointers if you have been in a similar situation before:

I let my son pick out his backpack and supplies. This allowed us to start talking about school in advance and got him involved in the process of picking out his gear.  I remember being young and getting so excited for a new pair of shoes or clothes, so I let him indulge in this feeling as well-we went to The Gap and got a few things to start him off this Fall.  I let him pick them out or at least see me picking them out for him.  I also showed him the school supplies list and together we filled is backpack in advance with the things he was required to bring for day one.  At the time, none of this seemed to calm his nerves, but when it came time to go to school, it was something familiar for that first day.

I talked to him. I saw he was nervous on the way into the building and then after that first day he was incredibly cranky about the whole experience.  I talked to him, like he was a grown-up really, not like he was a baby.  I told him that this was all new so it felt funny, but after a few days he would start to enjoy the classroom and start to look forward to seeing his new friends and teacher.  He really listened which I think helped him to understand and trust me on this one.  By day three, he seemed alot better.

Big sis got involved. My second grader is a doll.  She talked to him as well about what to expect.  He didn’t seem to want her advice, but I know that seeing her there at the school comforted him.  I saw one older sibling bringing a kindergartener to his classroom and it was very sweet.  I know in my son’s case, sometimes when I am not around, he’s less of a baby so this idea made sense to me for a number of reasons.

Snacks and lunch. My kids love to talk about snacks and lunch.  My son is a picky eater, but he loves his snacks so in the mornings, I have been getting him involved in selecting his daily snack, which if left entirely up to him would include Pirate’s Booty, chocolate milk and cookies, but I try to give him some of those comfort foods and some healthier choices like carrot sticks and apple slices.

Bed on time. Going back to school is exhausting physically and emotionally for everyone so these guys absolutely have to have a good night’s sleep.  No more summer hours.  They also should wake up with plenty of time to get ready for the day ahead and not feel rushed.  A good breakfast, in addition to a good night’s sleep, is essential.  If the child is low on energy, he’ll never be able to concentrate and thrive.

Talked to the teacher. I happened to know my son’s teacher because my daughter had her as well and I requested my son have her (lucky me).  But my son is a completely different child so this year is really like starting over with a new teacher.  Her relationship with him will be completely different than that of my daughter’s, so I made sure to get in to the classroom and talk to her about him and give her a heads up that he was a bit nervous.  I also got her email address so she could update me on his progress and tell me about the day, which then allows me to talk to him about things I know he did that day.  As a working mom, this has been helpful for me too.

What are some of the tips you have for sending your kids back to school with confidence?

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Rachael Ray