As summer wanes, many students (and parents) feel the excitement, the anticipation, and yes, the nervousness: The First Day of School. It can be fraught. Small changes can make a difference.
- Practice the first day of school routine: Getting into a sleep routine BEFORE the first week of school will aide in easing the shock of waking up early. Catching the bus, carpooling, or driving with parents require planning. Organizing things at home — backpack, binder, lunchbox or cafeteria money — will help make the first morning go smoothly. I recommend checking the weather and putting out clothes for the next day the night before.
- Also, walking through the building and visiting your child’s locker and classroom if they are transitioning or going to a new school will help ease anxiety of the unknown. Many schools have orientations and practice days. Use them.
- Knowledge is important. Some of the most common fears that I hear:
- Not being able to find their classroom
- Not being able to find the restroom
- Not being able to open their locker
- Not having the right textbooks or school supplies.
- Not knowing where their bus is.
- Being late between classes.
- Most middle and high schools now have alternating schedules, such as A and B days, which can potentially create confusion and anxiety for many students.
- Talk to your child: Asking your children about their fears or worries about going back to school will help them share concerns.
- Inquire as to what they liked about their previous school or grade and see how those positives can be incorporated into their new experience.
- Empathize with your children: Change can be difficult, but also exciting. Let your children know that you are aware of what they’re going through and that you will be there to help them in the process. Nerves are normal, but highlight that not everything that is different is necessarily bad.
- Figure out study space. A well-stocked desk in a quiet place at home can be key, but sometimes you need variety. Coffee shops, libraries, parks, study hall, or even just moving to the kitchen table will give you a change of scenery which can prompt your brain to retain information better.
- Track more than homework in a school planner. I believe in a master planner with at least four categories, and four ink colors to mark them:
- School deadlines including exams, projects, quizzes, SAT and college stuff dates, and in large assignments.
- Social events, including time with friends and family.
- Athletics and extracurriculars, including practice, games, rehearsals, meetings, team building, and volunteering.
- Lastly, self-care. You have to write down doctors appointments, haircuts, therapy, exercise, school holidays, and even scheduled downtime like specific movies, events, or concerts.
- Establish a Morning Routine. Figure out how much time you need everyday to get dressed, do your makeup, eat breakfast, etc. That way, you will know exactly when to wake up, and if you could have a snooze or two before that. Without being late.
- Organize Your Backpack the night before. An organized backpack will make it so much easier to grab what you’re looking for when you get to class. Sometimes, students can work hard on assignments, and forgot to pack your backpack with what they need for the day
- De-Clutter Your Room. When all the stuff you no longer use is removed, and when you’re not worried about finding what you need, your brain will feel clearer too.
- Write Things Down. Your brain is full with your busy life. Take two minutes each morning to get all your thoughts on paper. Put down everything you want to do for the day. Once it’s all out of your head, it’s easier to tell what your biggest goals are for the day and prioritize from there. It’s a great way to de-stress and make the day look less intimidating.
- Eat breakfast or bring snacks to school. If you plan this before hand, it makes it much easier not to hit the wall with the Hangries. Your brain needs fuel. School is an intense job.