How to Prepare Your Child for the First Day of School
When it comes to helping our children prepare for the first day of school and beyond, it helps to split the task up into three main pillars: Preparing them for active learning and education, preparing them for dealing with people from different backgrounds, and preparing them for socialization and friendship. Each of these pillars can be dealt with in a variety of ways, which we’ll try to go over as many of as possible within this article.
Ways to help your child prepare for learning
While many in our generation of parents have grown to prioritize other things over learning, such as social skills and physical fitness, learning is still a crucial part of our children’s development, and so it needs to remain near the top of our list of priorities, even if it doesn’t have to be at the very top.
- Read to your child on a daily basis and ask them open-ended questions about what you’ve read.
- Help them practice writing letters, and words if possible, especially the letters in their name.
- Have frequent conversations with your child, and try to point out when you’re speaking and when you’re listening to help them understand the unwritten rules of communication.
- Encourage your child to listen to you and other adults and to actively respond during conversation to help them brush up on their social skills.
- Try to incorporate as many “fun” elements as you can when helping your child learn. This includes things like turning words into rhymes, singing the alphabet song, dancing with them, or incorporating learning into their favorite activities.
- Use different learning styles and tools to help your child begin their learning journey before it’s time to actually go to school. Lanalou’s educational flashcards are a helpful, fun tool you can use with your child to help them learn about different aspects of the world around them, and they come in 4 different languages!
- When out in the real world, try to teach them colors through pointing out objects around you and their color; saying things like “That green tree is so pretty.” or “The blue water looks so nice” can help you achieve this.
- Count throughout the day with your child. You can count objects like the number of potato chips, the number of toys, or the number of people at a certain place. This can help improve your child’s brain function at such a sensitive age.
- Try to get pictures of your child’s school and classrooms and look through them with your child. This will help them become familiar with the environment and will allow them to feel more comfortable when the first day of school comes around.
- Ask your child what things scare or concern them about school, things like wetting themselves, not being able to make friends, or if the teachers are mean, and then try to work with them through those fears by telling them what they can do if any of these situations happen, or who they can go talk to for help.
Ways to help your child learn how to always stand up for themselves
At this day and age, we’re all aware of how commonplace bullying is in all its types, and we’re also aware of its potential to cause psychological and emotional damage to a developing young mind. The best way to deal with bullying is to prevent it from ever happening, and these are some things you can do to help your child prevent themselves from being bullied at school.
- Create a list of responses to use when talking with a bully. These responses should be clear and direct, while being non-antagonizing. Good responses to use include “Leave me alone”, “That’s not nice” or “I don’t like when you do that”.
- Help your child practice positive body language by asking them to do exercises such as looking into their friends’ eye color. This will help improve their posture, as they will likely be holding their head up, and sustained eye contact is a scientifically-proven deterrent for aggressive humans because it shows that this person is confident.
- Communicate openly, and frequently, with your child. Ask them how their day went, what they learned, and if anyone bothered them. Listen intently and respond calmly to build a relationship between you where they feel they can tell you anything without fear of your reaction.
- Build their confidence by encouraging hobbies and sports where they are able to express themselves. Frequently talk to your child about their unique qualities and talents that you love about them.
- Building on the previous point, try to speak positively to your child for the most part. Children respond better to positive reinforcement than negative punishment. Lanalou’s affirmation calendar is a wonderful tool you can use to build their confidence and self-esteem.
- Teach them how to react properly to bullying. This includes not letting a bully get to them, acting brave and walking away.
Ways to help your child prepare for social interactions and friendships
Forming friendships is extremely important to any child’s cognitive and social development. Friendships are also crucial for a child’s happiness and wellbeing, so it is important for parents to continually help their children form, build, and if needed, salvage friendships.
- Model positive social behaviors for your child. Teach them to be warm, friendly, and caring by being those things yourself.
- Nurture your child’s empathy and ability to read the people around them. There are many exercises available online that you can use with your child to help them empathize with others.
- Constructively help your child overcome any aggression or disruptive behaviors. This article summarizes 5 of the best strategies you can use to do this.
- Invite your child’s friends over for social activities that encourage cooperation over competition.
- Help your child learn the art of negotiation and compromise.
- Teach your child the importance of apologizing when they’ve done wrong. Make sure they understand that apologizing is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of greater strength.
- Moreover, teach them that simply apologizing is usually not enough, but it’s also important to make amends and refrain from making the same mistakes all over again.
Things you should avoid before the first day of school
- If you’re feeling nervous about your child’s first day of school, make sure not to project those feelings to avoid your child picking up on them. Children are like sponges, and this applies to almost everything in their lives.
- Refrain from making negative comments about your own experience in school. Statements like “I used to hate school” can reinforce negative emotions surrounding school before it’s even begun.
- That said, also refrain from overhyping school. Otherwise, your child may end up being disappointed when it doesn’t meet their expectations.
- Building on the previous point, don’t let school be your main and only topic of conversation. Treat it more as a matter-of-fact thing instead of their next “huge step forward”.
Your checklist for the first week of school
Preparation is not only important for your child. You also need to have everything they need ready for them ahead of time, so that the first week, when you’re both still figuring everything out, goes by smoothly. Here’s a checklist of some of the most important things to keep in mind during that first week of school.
- Plan when and where you’re going to pick up, and drop off, your child. Make sure your little one knows these details as well.
- Prepare all their school supplies and equipment ahead of time. Think P.E. clothes, books, notebooks, pencils, and a fresh set of clothes.
- Label your child’s school supplies and equipment with their name. This is super useful for lunchboxes, pencil cases, their backpack, and everything in between.
- Plan on whether you’ll be walking your child inside into the classroom or whether you’ll just be dropping them off at the gate.
- Prepare your little one’s healthy meals ahead of time and have them packed and ready to go.
- Monitor their attitude and behavior closely during the first week to see if anything about them changes. It’s completely normal for that to happen, as children can be more exhausted than they’re used to, but it’s still important to keep track of everything.
While this list is not comprehensive, it’s simply meant to give you a sense of what kinds of things you’ll need to think about to make sure your little one is happy and comfortable at school. If you have any suggestions for things we should add to this list, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us on our Instagram page!
If you haven’t yet, don’t forget to check out our collection of educational and lifestyle products designed to enhance your child’s development in a fun, engaging way that stimulates all of their senses!