The First Day of School

Written By: Rachel Strong
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The first day of kindergarten is a rite of passage for any student. Every mother cries and takes pictures. Everything is new-new backpack, new pencils, new experiences, new clothes, new school, and new friends. This is the day that may shape their entire view of school. If they have a good day, they may love school and learning forever. If they have a not-so-good day, they may begin counting the days until they graduate in first grade.

The first day of school in the grades after kindergarten doesn't hold the same appeal, but for all grades-first grade even through college-it has its own highs and lows. You go to your class wondering who is going to be there with you and who your teachers are-no one wants to get the teacher that gives out the most homework. Did your best friend get the same class? Did your worst enemy?

Whether they're first-time kindergarteners or starting a new school in a new neighborhood, your student will have a lot of questions (and maybe even more fears) about their new school. Here are a few tips on making the first day of school a bit easier.

Tip #1-Start early. Make sure your student knows when he or she will need to wake up. If you need to, send them to bed extra early. Make sure your child's backpack and clothes are set out the night before. Don't change your child's normal morning routine too much. Everything else is changing that day, changing from a bath before bed to a shower after waking up may be one change too many.

Tip #2-Reassure your child. Your child will have excitement and apprehension at the thought of a new school and being in a new environment. Let them know that just like the days and weeks before, you'll be around according to your routine.

Tip #3-Sneak something special in your child's lunch or backpack. A note, a picture or a special treat, something that lets your child know you are thinking of them and could act as a security blanket if your child gets nervous or scared at school.

Tip #4-Walk your child to school or the bus stop. Make sure if your child walks to school-especially when your child is younger-that he or she has at least one buddy to walk with. Safety is important, and kids walking to school or home alone can be abducted or enticed. If you late to work, that is okay-this is a big day for your child. Just make sure your boss knows you will be coming in late and why. Knowing your child's route to school or the bus is crucial in case-heaven forbid-something happen.

But what if your student is starting a higher grade, or transitioning from elementary to middle school or middle to high school? They have years of school under their belt and know the routine. They may think nothing of the first day of school-or just want to go back to school so they can start their football season.

Starting early and getting a good night's sleep is still very important. Older students are used to staying up later and waking up later as they had during the summer months. For the week before school, it is a good rule of thumb to have them go to bed and wake up at the time they need to for school.

Laying everything out so it's easier to grab and go is also a good idea. However, as students get older, parents have to do this less and less-you just need to nag more and more. And there's nothing wrong with nagging.

As your student gets older or transferring to a different school, knowing your student's route to the bus or to school is still important; and for the same reason. Being a paranoid parent may annoy your child, but it may keep him or her safe, and which is more important?

Tailing your student when she is a freshman in high school probably wouldn't gain you any points, but giving her something a little special in her lunch, or sneaking a snack in her backpack probably will. For teens, actions speak so much louder than words.

When your student gets home, no matter what their age, let them sit down and tell about their day. If you cannot be home when your student arrives, make a point to sit the entire family down at the dinner table and let everyone share about his or her day. If you student is reluctant, then you go first, and tell about your day. If you student had a bad day, got a bad teacher, got too much homework, or even got into trouble, let them vent. Let them finish before you start defending the teacher or homework, or punishing the trouble.

By investing in the first day of school, you'll set a great foundation for your children's school year.

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