The back-to-school season can be exciting, stressful, and everything in between! You're probably feeling excited and maybe a little sad that summer is over. Some kids feel nervous or a little scared on the first day of school because of all the new things: new teachers, new friends, and maybe even a new school. Luckily, these "new" worries only stick around for a little while.
Back-to-school time brings many changes for children and their families. Whether it's the first day of kindergarten or first grade, or starting at a new preschool or childcare setting, the process can seem overwhelming and a bit intimidating. Providing a smooth transition between home and school requires teachers and early childhood professionals to help children feel confident about themselves and trust other adults and new children around them. While these transitions can be challenging, they also provide an exciting opportunity for children to learn and grow. It's the responsibility of parents and early childhood professionals to make children feel safe and secure as they grow in these new transitions.
The degree of adjustment to a new school year depends on the child, but adults play a big role in managing the expectations and reality of a new year. Discussing a child's expectations is a great way to prepare everyone for the upcoming school year. Have an open dialogue with a child about what they expect about returning to school or starting a new grade. Address any feelings of doubt or possible concerns, such as making new friends, exploring new subjects, separation anxiety, etc. Let the child know you care and make sure to put aside extra time during the first few weeks to provide support and guidance if necessary.
Most veteran teachers and experienced childcare providers have a good idea of what they need to do to get ready for the new school year, but it's always good to know how you can help the children feel most comfortable in their new environment. Creating a welcoming environment is a simple and extremely effective way to promote a child's ability to adapt and adjust. The more welcome a child feels in a new environment, they faster they will overcome any fears or anxieties they may have when entering that new environment. Get to know the children ahead of time by holding an orientation a few days before the first official day of school. This will give kids a chance to see their classroom and meet the other children in a safe and secure setting.
Going back to school can be a tough time for parents, children, and teachers alike. While experience helps to ease transitions, change can still be stressful. Parents, teachers, and caregivers can help children learn how to approach new situations with confidence and successfully prepare them for changes in the upcoming school year. Strengthening these ties can help create smooth transitions for everyone involved, while setting the stage for success from day one.