Do you have a child who is getting ready for her first day of school? That can be an exciting or a scary time for a child depending upon their temperament and personality. Perhaps your child isn’t just beginning school for the first time, but he is going to a new school or even in a new town or city if the family has moved during the summer.
One of the first things that comes to my mind is the word RELAX. If you are uptight about the change, your child will pick up on it and will have a harder time dealing with it as well. As a former teacher, I’ve seen children of overly doting parents, and have seen situations where the parents are the cause of the problem, not the crying child.
Share the excitement of getting ready for school by letting them help choose their book bags, notebooks, pencils, clothing, and whatever other supplies they might need. Be sensitive about what clothing the child would like to wear, but don’t feel you must buy to keep up with every fad that comes along. A child’s clothing needs to be as nice as the family can afford, but it doesn’t help if the child’s sense of importance comes from extravagant clothing either.
Mark the date on the calendar and talk about how many days until school starts. Be upbeat and help them to have an “I can” mentality about the upcoming year. Be your child’s cheerleader. Plan ahead for a place to display their best school work and celebrate accomplishments.
Establish helpful routines from the very beginning. Discuss them before school starts so there won’t be surprises the first day. If these routines are started while the child is young, they will prove to be even more helpful as the child gets older.
- Have a designated place where book bags go – probably best if it is close to the door they use to come in the house.
- Recognize the need for a debriefing time when your child first comes home from school (or after-school day care if both parents work). Plan ahead and have a healthy snack ready, and take or make the time to discuss the highlights of the child’s day. Check for notes from school or papers that need to be signed and returned.
- Establish a predetermined time when the talking must stop and the child does his homework. Be aware of upcoming assignments that take longer than one afternoon to complete them. Encourage your child to set up a plan for how much should be done each day on the longer assignments.
- Keep the TV off until all homework is completed – that includes programs for parents as well as for the children. Record programs if necessary so everyone can stick to the homework plan. Even after homework is completed, limit the number of hours your children watch TV. Encourage them to be more creative with their use of time.
- Have a predetermined bedtime and develop routines for bathing, brushing teeth, and laying out the next day’s clothes before going to bed.
All of this sounds good in writing, but it doesn’t just happen. It takes discipline on everyone’s part. But the results will produce a more self-confident child who will learn to take life one day at a time, and to take on projects without stressing out over them.
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