Sending your child off to school for the first time is a major milestone in both of your lives. And it’s perfectly normal if she isn’t the only one who’s feeling a little anxious. In fact, you may even more wistful if your child isn’t nervous at all. Beginning full-time school is one of those big signs that your baby isn’t really a baby anymore – and you might meet this milestone with a variety of mixed emotions.
It’s okay if you’re feeling a little relieved that your child is off to school (especially if you’ve been home full-time with him). It’s also okay if a part of you is wishing that she didn’t need to start school this year – that you’d have just one more year with your little girl. No matter what you’re feeling (and your emotions may vary from day to day), what’s really important is the attitude that you’re projecting to your child. Remember that while it can be hard to admit that our kids are growing up, trying to prevent it from happening will only keep them from experiencing life.
Starting school should be an exciting time for kids. If your child is naturally shy or feeling nervous about going to school, it’s even more important that you emphasize the exciting aspects. How can you do this when you’re really feeling apprehensive yourself? I find that whenever I’m nervous about something, it helps to be as prepared as possible. Throwing yourself into the preparation for the first day will help take your mind off the inevitable separation. And involving your child will help to build his anticipation.
Meet the Teacher
Most schools have a Parent’s Information Night when you register your child for school. Make sure to take the opportunity to introduce yourself to your child’s teacher so that you’ll feel comfortable knowing who will be with your child all day.
Shop for School Supplies
This is a good opportunity to get your child excited about starting school. Let her pick out a backpack in her favorite color and school supplies starring her favorite cartoon characters. It will make pencils and erasers that much more special.
Pack a Special Lunch
Have your child help you pack his lunch the night before the first day. It’s another way to show him that you’re proud of what a big boy his is now. Consider making the first lunch a little extra special – cut a sandwich into fun shapes or include his favorite homemade treat.
Include an Upbeat Note
Slip a note into your child’s lunch as a little surprise for her to find halfway through the day. Make sure the note is a positive one – avoid an “I miss you” note. Instead, write something along the lines of “I’m so proud of my big girl!” or simply “I love you.” The note is sure to make her feel special and you’ll know that you’ve sent her off with a little piece of you too.
Walk or Drive Your Child to School
Even if your child will normally take a bus to school, it can be helpful for both of you if you take him personally on the first day. Your child will understand that this is a special day and you’ll get a chance to see your child enter his classroom so you’ll know that he’ll be fine for the day.
The basic message is…
Even if sending your child to school for the first time feels a little like letting them go, put on a brave smile and save your tears until after you’ve dropped them off!