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1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #448

Back to School List for Parents – Tip #448

First day

For many of us in North America this is the time for our kids to return or start school.  If you haven’t already noticed, I am big on goal setting, lists and being prepared – I believe that some weeks it is all that keeps me sane.  I believe that these things set, not only you but, your child up for success throughout the school year.  Parents are often less resilient, open to change and flexible than even our most stubborn of children.  For most kids, the back to school adjustment takes less than 10 days. It is twice the time for adults.  We often believe our kids won’t handle something and then wonder what it was we were worried about (of course they always teach you a lesson by being thrown off (completely) by something that you didn’t foresee as being an issue at all too but we can’t predict it all!).  If a family pet can sense when we are anxious, sad or stressed then isn’t it not too far of a leap to think that our children can sense it too.  Here are my tips for not only helping your children feel better about starting school but for you too.
Tips for parents:
1) Begin to discuss with your children the changes that are coming by asking them what they are excited about first, focus on the positive and do not share your worries or concerns. Asking them if they are worried makes them think there is something to be worried about…they know nothing about the harsh realities of our world
2) Highlight what you think they will enjoy most and tell them about all the new things they have to look forward to. Show them pictures and read “Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten” or other kinder like books that will get them asking questions and excited about school
3) Take them to the school yard over the holidays and let them play without the crowds and just get comfortable using the space – this will make you more comfortable too
4) Drive, walk or bike their route to school and point out interesting things on the route
5) Adjust school sleeping routines at least a week before heading to school so there isn’t the added stress of being tired
6) Do lunch practice – teach them how to open containers, what to eat for snack, what to eat for lunch and what to throw out by doing a week (at least) of the lunch kit before school starts
7) Read “The Invisible String” and give them a piece of string for their pocket or backpack (“The Kissing Hand” is another great one too)
8) Know about the school your child is going to – go to their website, visit the school and/or get a school handbook
9) On the first day… show no fear. Be upbeat and confident. By being confident, your child will be more comfortable and develop a trusting relationship with staff much quicker (this will help with the tears and clinging to you for dear life).  Being confident means that you leave quickly (regardless of begging, tears, screaming, etc.).  When you leave, you are telling your child that you trust who they are with to look after them.  When you hesitate, given in and stay you are telling them that you don’t know if they are safe, aren’t sure they will be okay and don’t believe that they can manage.
10) Before leaving them at school (this is good for all kids – no matter what the age), tell your child when you will specifically see them again (eg. ‘Have a great day, I will see you at dinner and we will…’, ‘I will be at the bus stop by our house’)

Below are some books I recommend for ages 3-8 year olds.  For more information about my tips, books or resources go to:  www.whileyouwereaway.org


Another great read if you or your child are anxious.  All you will need afterwards is a piece of string!

Another great read if you or your child are anxious. All you will need afterwards is a piece of string!

A good book for helping to ease separation anxiety

A good book for helping to ease separation anxiety



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