Helping your Child through his first Day of School

Each year, as we enter August, our thoughts turn away from suntans and beach balls and toward backpacks and book covers. With another school year, just around the corner, many children will soon face an interesting (and sometimes, scary) challenge – fitting into a new situation.

A recent U.S. Census Bureau poll, regarding the 2007-2008 school year, estimated that 55.8 million students will be enrolled in grades kindergarten through twelve, this school year. Many of these children will be attending school for the first time or will be in a new school, for the upcoming school year. The question that the parents of these students must ask is: How do I better prepare my child for this transition? The answer can be as simple as a simple heart-to-heart talk.

When I was a child and preparing for my first day of kindergarten, I remember wondering whether the other children would accept me. I was concerned about whether I would make friends and in the back of my toddler-aged mind pondered how I would cope, if I was not accepted. Then, my parents told me something that has helped me through many difficult transitions: “Be you.”

On my first day of kindergarten and, thanks to a childhood of moving, my first day in many different schools, I walked onto the playground, saw the other childhood talking among themselves, and boldly worked my way into the discussion. On that first school day, and especially in kindergarten, I realized that I was not alone. My new status as a student, my teacher, and my school was just as scary for every child in attendance, that day. I was no different that anyone else and by quickly realizing this, I was better able to adapt.

The situation differs somewhat for children who are transitioning from one school to another, but the main philosophy remains the same. The key to preparing our children for a successful adaptation into a new school or life situation is to recognize the unique qualities, residing in each individual child, and then, help the child to use those qualities to his or her advantage. If the child is a good listener, then maybe he or she can become a buddy for another child who is feeling the same fears. If the child is creative, maybe he or she could create a “friendship badge” or something along those lines to give to the children of his or her classroom.

The most important lesson we can teach our children at the beginning of the school year is a lesson that will aid them in all facets of life. If we ask our children what they believe is their most redeeming quality, we help them to understand themselves better. Then, if we teach them that it is okay to be scared, sad, nervous, anxious, or bashful about a new situation and show them that long as they remain true to themselves and the qualities that make them special, their fears will fade away, our children will always have a gift more precious than gold. Not to mention, they will be better prepared to face each obstacle in life.

Good luck to your children and good luck to you, as their parents. Some of the most important lessons our children learn are those that we, parents, teach them. Do not delay, help your children today and have a wonderful school year!