July 23, 2012

Karla’s Korner: Five Tips to Help Tame First Time School Anxieties

I am proud to introduce a new column to Madame Deals! I think we all need a touch point a place we can go to be inspired. Karla is my children’s teacher, a good friend, and a person with a heart of gold. I hope that her words will inspire you to do more. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It is important to listen with your heart and proceed with your eyes open. Enjoy!

Five Tips to Help Tame First Time School Anxieties….

August is here and that means the first day of school is right around the corner. Parents and students are gearing up for another school year anxiously waiting to receive their schedules or teacher assignments. My son, Christopher, will be entering high school this year. Ninth grade has somehow crept up on us and whether we are ready or not the time is near. Having taught all summer at my preschool’s summer session I am ready to jump back into a normal routine where everybody in my house is on some sort of schedule doing whatever it is we do; even if that means my daughter will be leaving for college in less than a month. I know she is where she belongs and am quite thankful that college is less than thirty minutes away. 

These milestones are huge not only in our children’s lives but in our own. Sending our children off to school without us for the first time can be a bit painful, but trust me when I tell you it will all be okay. For me I think it was more difficult to send my daughter away to college than it was putting her on the bus for kindergarten nearly 15 years ago. Looking back at it now, that was a piece of cake compared to walking away from her dorm room last August knowing that she was now in control of her life. And as my son prepares to enter high school and try out for the junior varsity football team I am filled with excitement for him and all of the opportunities he has in front of him; but at the same time it’s evident that he too is becoming his own person and before too long I will leave him at a dorm room somewhere leaving him to take care of himself just like his sister.

As a preschool teacher I thought it would be helpful if I shared some of the dos and don’ts of sending your child to school for the first time, whether it’s preschool or kindergarten. Quite often I find myself encouraging first time school parents to worry less and embrace the fact that their child is growing up or offer tips to help them make the transition from home to school a bit easier. Naturally each parent will ultimately discover what works for their family and what doesn’t. I hope you find the following list helpful.

1. Do not over pack your child’s lunchbox. Too much food can be overwhelming. Keep it simple.

Do consider packing various small containers with smaller amounts of food in each. For example, berries, melon pieces, vegetable sticks, grapes, raisins, pretzels, goldfish crackers, pepperoni pieces and cheese cubes/sticks are great lunch box companions. This will allow your child to have a variety of healthy foods without having a lot to waste. Also, water is the best choice for lunchbox drinks.

2. Do not take toys from home to school. Quite often special toys from home get broken or lost and cannot be replaced.

Do encourage your child to leave special “lovies” at home where they will be safe and waiting for their return each evening. Some parents buckle special stuffed friends in their child’s car seat for the day allowing them to be greeted after school. The same goes for all special items from home such as eating utensils and drinking cups.

3. Do not tell your child that you are going to miss them while they are at school. This creates a sense of anxiety in your child. Believe it or not, your child will worry that you are sad and will not have a very good day.

Do encourage your child by telling them how excited you are for them to have a great day. Telling them that you look forward to hearing all about their day when you pick them up will encourage them to remember the high points of their day and be excited to tell you all about it on the way home or at the dinner table as a family.

4. For smaller children, do not spend time in your child’s classroom at drop off time. By entering the classroom, sitting down next to them while they begin their daily activity they may gain a false sense of security thinking you are going to stay with them.

Do drop off at the classroom door or designated drop off area with a quick kiss and a hug goodbye. This will allow your child to form a healthy sense of separation from you ensuring that they know you will be back at pick up time excited to hear about the activities of their day.

5. Do not be late for arrival or dismissal. If your child is late for school, more than likely they will have missed something. Also by arriving late to school you have probably had a stressful morning and have passed your stress and anxiety on to your child. If you are late for pick up your child will become fearful or anxious when they are left standing at the door while everyone else has gone off with their parents. Also, being late is disrespectful not only to the teacher but the other students. Once in a while something happens that makes us late that is understandable; however chronic tardiness is unacceptable and only teaches your child to be chronically late as an older student or adult.

Do allow yourself plenty of time to arrive for drop off and pick up. Being at the classroom door or designated pickup area is important for your child and teacher. This tells your child that you are excited to see them and that you are ready for your time with them. This also tells your child’s teacher that you value their time as well. Quite often teachers have a specific amount of time to tidy up before they themselves leave for home or pick up their own children. Being on time tells your child’s teacher that you value their schedule as well.

Whatever stage your family finds themselves in be it daycare, preschool, or kindergarten, know that staying positive with your child will set the tone for a great school year. By following these few simple guidelines, I am confident that you will have a less stressful more positive experience as first time school parents. Embrace this special time in your life knowing that each new stage and phase will allow your child the opportunities to be the very best he/she can be.


Check out all of Karla’s Korner articles here.

Also, please visit Karla’s Lifetime Moms page and read her articles.

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