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First Day of School: Tips for a Smooth Start

Amber Brandt  |  May 09, 2024
Starting school can be exciting and stressful, whether you’re a brand-new kindergartener, joining a new school midyear, or settling back into scheduling rhythms after summer break. It’s a lot of adjustment for kids, parents, and teachers, but here are a few tips that might help to smooth out the back-to-school transition.
  1. Tour the school. The best thing you can do to prepare your child for school is schedule a tour of the building with them before their first day. Plan to visit the building, highlighting key areas where they’ll spend the most time, like classrooms, the gym, and playground, and allow them to ask questions. Becoming familiar with these spaces before their first day of school will put them more at ease, replacing some of the mystery with a clearer picture of what to expect.
  2. Adopt a routine early. Don’t wait until the day before school starts to institute an earlier bedtime or morning alarm. Give your family a week or two to transition into earlier nights and mornings. Establish a routine of evening bathing and laying out your child’s clothing a couple of weeks in advance, so by the time the first day of class arrives, they’ll feel acclimated and ready to go.
  3. Think positively. If your child is experiencing back-to-school anxiety, (new school, or kindergarten anxiety), talk about how much fun they’ll have reconnecting with school friends they may not have seen for a couple of months, or how much they enjoyed gym last year, or how big and brave they've gotten. Having something positive to look forward to can help brighten their perspective. If your child is beginning kindergarten, walk them verbally through a typical day and the types of things they can expect to happen.
  4. Improve focus with a full belly. When we were kids, teachers always reminded us to eat a good breakfast before taking an important test – and the same rings true for our kids. With easier access to free, healthy breakfasts and lunches in most of our buildings, you can feel confident your child will start the day (and keep their focus) with good, healthy meals to carry them through the day. Visit your school's School Meals page for more information on their meals program.
  5. Clear the schedule. Simplify your evenings and weekend commitments during the first couple of weeks of school. The added breathing room and time to wind down each day will do your family good.
  6. Get organized. Consider buying plastic tubs, drawer systems, binders, or labels to help keep school papers organized. This will keep your spaces and mind from getting too cluttered.
  7. Keep dinner easy. Consider grilling out, preparing simple crock pot meals, or getting takeout during the first week of school. This will ease evening pressure and allow your family plenty of time to decompress from the new daily schedule.
  8. Make space for homework. Developing a good homework routine can help lessen feet-dragging. Establish a consistent workspace and communicate clear boundaries about when technology or TV needs to be switched off.
  9. Avoid morning madness. Starting each morning on the right foot can help set the tone for your child’s day. Consider staying up an extra 10 minutes to set the breakfast table, go through your child’s backpack, or pack a lunch to eliminate added pressure for the morning.
  10. Give some grace. Stress on one member of the family impacts the whole family, so remember to take a deep breath, understand the circumstances, and try to find a way to laugh together. Slowing down with intention and unpacking the day together can help put everyone’s first days of school jitters at ease.
Check out a school near you!