I love to tell childhood stories about my now independent, hard-working, world traveling 23-year-old. Hard to believe she’s the same child that screamed the entire walk to school every morning and sat on my lap for two hours at birthday parties. My Brooklyn neighbors would stand on their front porches waving, smiling, and silently encouraging me to carry on.
My kid was a clinger and did not want to go to school. She held my leg so tightly and screamed so loudly I wanted to cry. And this was only kindergarten evaluation day.
So, I did what every stressed out and embarrassed mom would do… I told the teachers that she had a fever and we should reschedule. There you have it, I lied to my daughter’s kindergarten teacher on the first day of school.
Going to school for kindergarten or 10th grade should be as stress free as possible. Here are some of my best tips:
1. Accept the fact that all ages will be cranky for the first two weeks. Keep demands and schedules as light as possible until you and your child adjust to the new schedule.
2. Never let your children hear you speak negatively about their teacher. Be positive and remember that a teacher that did not work for your neighbor’s kid… may be your child’s favorite teacher.
3. Work through your own anxious feelings about back-to-school. Children pick up on spoken and unspoken anxiety. The more relaxed you are about school the more relaxed your kids will be.
4. Prepare ahead of time. Donate clothes that no longer fit your child and get rid of mismatched socks. You will appreciate never hearing your kids yelling, “Mom, I can’t find my other sock.”
5. Decide where your child’s study space or homework area will be. Clear out the clutter and let them make it their own by adding a decorating touch that they select or create. Making or buying a purple pencil holder decorated with stickers can transform their space and attitude.
6. Introduce your child to at least one or two other children that will be in their class. Meet for lunch. I always found Chuck-E-Cheese to be a great place to break the ice. It helps kids build memories and gives them something to talk about at school.
7. Put your family on a routine and emphasize sleep. For bedtime, focus on relaxation and sleep will follow.
8. Make sure your child’s emotional backpack is filled with self-esteem building tools and relaxation techniques. Deep breathing, positive statements, and visualizing doing well at school can make a difference.
9. Acknowledge that change; be it positive or negative creates stress. Children are especially sensitive to change. A little awareness coupled with creativity and compassion can make your back-to-school days…. stress free.