The best school year ever starts with the best first day ever. The first day is always exciting for everyone.
From a principal perspective, having seen the hours and hours of preparation by
the teachers getting ready for the first day, the energy level is high. We’re
all excited to see our students and families again.
As a parent, I know how it feels to send a child back. While
there is some sense like “yes, it’s time to go back”, there is also a little
sadness after breaking things up after a fun summer together. As adults, we can
feel the anxious about the year to come, so it’s no doubt that our children can
become anxious too as they take cues from us.
For our students, the first day back can be a mixed bag of
emotion. We see it all on this day – from happiness to tears, it’s all there. To
help minimize emotions, here are some recommendations for little things to do
to ensure the first day goes as well as possible:
Familiarize Yourself with School Information –
as a parent, there is a lot of work that goes into preparing for the first few
week of school, and this certainly involves a lot of reading. Information comes
fast and furious and through a variety of sources (website, email, and social
media) and people. Take the time to read through it all. This will assist in
your preparation and trust me, it really is too much to read on the morning of
or even the night before.
Talk it Out – You might think your child is
emotionally ready to go back to school, but it’s always a good idea to talk
about it. Simple questions like “what are you most looking forward to?” or “what
do you think your teacher will like most about you?” puts their thinking into
transition mode. Avoid conversations about “what teacher are you hoping to get?”
or “who do you hope is in your class?” because these questions create
anticipation, which may sometimes not play out.
Do a Dry Run – For younger students, they may not
only benefit from talking through things, but also doing a dry run with you.
Some simple things you might want to practice can include putting on, taking off
and hanging up a backpack, noting the difference between snack and lunch, practicing
taking shoes on and off, modeling sitting on the carpet and how to raise a hand
to ask a question (ex. “may I go to the washroom?”). More complex modeling
might include how to ask a friend to play, what to do if they’re stuck with an
assignment, or going through what your after-school routines are.
Create a “Things to Know About Me” Document – In
recent years, I have seen students and parents work on a flat sheet to give to
their teacher on the first day of school. I’m not sure where this idea came
from (Pinterest perhaps) but it’s brilliant. Some of the important information to
include might be a picture, birthdate, and things they like about school, and
things they like to do outside of school. If the student is able to indicate information
about how they feel they learn best (ex. Do they like to participate in
hands-on learning? Do they need a quiet space to learn sometimes?), that can be
very valuable to the teacher. It is also fun for the student to hand something they’ve
made to their teacher on day one.
Of course, there are countless other logistical and practical
things parents need to do before their children go back to school, and it’s a
busy time in the house to be sure. If, in all the busyness of the preparations
you might be able to make use these suggestions I am confident they will
benefit in an even smoother first day back.
Here’s to the best school year ever!