As summer winds to a close, many of us are preparing our children for their first day of school. Whether this year they are starting for the first time at preschool or kindergarten, starting at a brand new school, or just advancing a grade, they may be feeling nervous about starting school in the Fall. Every child handles change and new transitions differently. However it is normal for most children to have first day jitters. Luckily, there are some things we can do to help them feel confident when starting school this year.
Understand The Pressures
Though we may think back to our school days as a time of ease and fun in comparison to all the responsibilities we currently face as adults, we need to acknowledge that our children do face a lot of pressures. Children have a lot of pressures from academic stressors and expectations from their teachers, coaches, and peers, as well as the expectations we put on them, so they may be feeling nervous about their ability to be successful at school. So start by opening a dialogue with your children about what they are nervous about. Some kids may be worried about bullying, while others may be worried about succeeding in math class. Each child has different struggles, so it is important to understand what your child’s pressures are so you can help guide them.
Help Them Put Together A Strategy For Dealing With Stress
Once you know what your child is worried about, then you can help them figure out how they can deal with the pressures they are facing. So sit down and work out some ideas on what to do if they are feeling stressed. There are so many ways we can help our children deal with stress and every child will thrive will different tools. The best place to start is to encourage your child openly communicate their fears and stresses. This means you need to help them address this stress without judgment. Once you know the root of their worries, then you can help them figure out how to overcome them. For example if they are nervous about doing well in a class, you can help them develop good study habits. If they are nervous about peer pressure, you can help them practice what to say if they are faced with these circumstances. Just make sure to focus on confidence-building strategies so if your child is feeling stressed, they will feel competent and capable of overcoming these challenges.
When you speak about the school year, always keep it positive. If it is your child’s first time ever attending school make sure that they know they need to be excited about school and that it will be fun. If your child is transitioning to a new school and is worried about making new friends, help encourage them to sign up for sports and activities so they can meet other students. If you child is worried about academic pressures, help them put together a strategy to prepare them for their learning challenges. Encourage them to look into things that can help them develop their skills like hiring a tutor, online classes, or even smartphone apps. If you stay positive and encouraging, your child will be more likely to feel confident about starting school in the Fall.
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
The best way to feel confident is to feel prepared. So don’t wait until the last minute to get everything ready. Buy school supplies and clothes early, so they have everything they need. Go over their class schedule now to make sure they are taking things that are at their academic level and foster their interests. Visit the school before starting class, so they can become familiar with the school, rather than just being thrust into a new situation. Talk to their school counselor and set up meetings with their teachers. Make sure that they are completely prepared and understand what kind of expectations they will have.
Help Them Set Goals For The Year
Goals are very important to help children self-actualize. If they are just going to school because they are supposed to, it will be harder for them to engage. If you help them set goals, whether they are academic goals like making the honor roll or getting an A in a difficult class or social goals like making sure they talk to at least one person everyday or finally ask out their crush, goals can help children look forward to the school year. Do not put too much pressure on these goals though. They are there to encourage your children, not add more expectations.
Check Up On Them Routinely
Children are still learning how to communicate and understand themselves. They may be worried about academic success one day and social pressures the next. So make sure to keep the dialogue going so you can address all their issues as they come up. Also once they’ve started school, check their progress. Are they coping with the stress? Have they made friends? How are their studies going? Sometimes the strategies we put in place to deal with these challenges don’t work. If they do not, sit down and help them develop new strategies and eventually they will find a way to overcome these struggles.
Jitters on the first day of school are perfectly natural for most children no matter what their grade. Though some nervousness is okay, you want to make sure that the pressures your children are facing aren’t causing them unnecessary stress. You can help your children overcome these challenges by listening to their concerns, helping them develop a strategy to have an awesome school year, and being positive and encouraging. If you are supportive and help them feel confident, you can ensure your children can overcome their jitters and start the school year off right!