What guidance does the Bible provide?
"Cast all your cares upon him because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7 Through this stressful time of preparing your child to go to school, it is important to remember that the Lord cares for you and does not want us to worry. He has everything under his control and will not let us down. Going to Him in prayer and petition on behalf of your child helps to ease a parent's mind as they watch their son or daughter grow up and begin their schooling journey.
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 This verse can speak to the heart of the child in this tough and even scary time for them. The Lord is with them wherever they go, even to school, and they should not be afraid or worried. Children need this constant reminder, as do parents, that God is with them, and they have no reason to fear.
Things to think about:
For the Parent:Starting school is a huge milestone for you and your child. Lots of children and parents are a bit nervous about going to school for the first time; this is a normal reaction. Children are often anxious about doing something new on their own. Parents are generally found in the midst of excitement and sadness; watching their children grow up and developing their independence as they try new things on their own. Children will pick up on their parents' stress and anxiety that may further increase their worry about going to school. Making school sound like the most exciting and fun place is an encouraging way to focus on the excitement of a new adventure. Talking about what they will learn and do in school is one way to alleviate some tensions.
For the Child: This transition time is important for your child to feel comfortable and enthusiastic about going to school. Laying down a good foundation when starting school builds up the importance of an education as well as the love of learning. The child will need assistance in adjusting to his or her new schedule and even being a part of different people groups. Help them to meet new friends. Alleviating as much stress as possible for your child will help both of you tremendously in sending them on their way to school.
What do I do now?
Children have a desire to know what is going to happen, so talk about what kinds of activities that they will get to do as a class. A child that knows what to expect will be better able to adjust to the changes that may occur during their school day.
Things that you can do with your child to better prepare them for school:
- Go to meet the teacher night
- Tour the school
- Take time for a special trip to purchase school supplies and uniforms
- Talk to your child about their feelings about school
- Meet other families in your child's class--go on a playdate
- Read books geared towards the first day of school
- Allow your child to bring an approved special item from home that comforts them
Talking to your child about starting school is important in sensing how they need assistance in preparing. Reassuring your child that you will help him or her with whatever issues arrive at school is comforting to any child. Remember to be positive and encouraging about them going to school; they will follow you as the leader and get excited to start their learning adventure!
Want to go deeper?
Some helpful books to read with your child:
- Berenstain, J. & Berenstain, S. (1978). The Berenstain Bears Go to School. New York, NY; Random House, Inc.
- Penn, A., Harper, R.E., & Leak, N.M. (1993). The Kissing Hand. Terre Haute, IN; Tanglewood Press, Inc.
- Rusackas, F. & Burris, P. (2004). I Love You All Day Long. New York, NY; HarperCollins Publishers.
This website has a video from a psychologist that encourages parents on preparing your child for the first day of school along with tips for making the first day great.
This link includes a list of several ways that you can help your child adjust to going to school for the first time. There is a video at the bottom about what your child will learn in Kindergarten that is helpful for preparation for classroom time.
This blog contains helpful hints for getting your child ready for school as well as yourself. This site also includes educational preparation and learning milestones to help you child achieve and succeed in the classroom. There are parent aids towards the bottom and suggestions from a mom/teacher as she sends her first child off to school.
This website contains many suggestions for parents to prepare and socialize their child and well as help them to express their thoughts about school.