With summer ending, kids are dreading the first day of school while their parents are doing happy dances all over the house and marking off the days until school starts. Whether your kids are scared of starting a new grade, concerned about making and keeping friends, or trepidacious about their upcoming classes, parents need to recognize and act toward their children’s negative feelings toward going back to school and find ways to make the first day of school a celebration rather than a sentence term.
First, find out why your kids don’t want to go back to school, and take their responses seriously. It can be something as simple as your child wanting pink notebooks for class instead of blue, but whatever it is, it’s a real concern for your child and should be for you, too. Remember when you were petrified on your first day of school and your parents all but shoved you out of the door anyway? Relieve your children’s fears and concerns before they start the new school year so they are better mentally and emotionally prepared to start the new year. If they are scared of keeping their friends, have them call their bff for a play date after school, if they’re afraid of making friends, remind them of how great their personality is, if it’s feeling unprepared for their new classes, reassure them that if they try the class and it doesn’t work for them, you will go with them to the counselor to choose more appropriate classes. Being there for them, big or small, will boost their self-esteem and confidence about their new school year.
On the first day of school, prepare a special breakfast. It can be cake for celebration, pizza and hot wings, or chocolate-chip pancakes, just make it special and unique to that day. Make it a breakfast that they don’t normally get, and a memorable one.
Place a card of encouragement on their pillow. My mom without fail would always have a card telling me how proud she was of me on the first day of school, and I would look forward to those cards every year. Cards are a physical acknowledgment of love and encouragement, and your child can keep them year after year as they grow. It’s a great thing to look forward to.
Promise the kids that if they go through a whole week of school without issue and reprimand at school, you’ll reward them with a pizza party, sleepover, or trip the the zoo or movies on the first weekend after a whole week of school. This takes your childrens’ minds off the long week ahead and more focused on the fun they’ll have while they transition back into school.
About 2 weeks before your kids have to go back to school, start waking them up at their “getting ready for school” times. Half the reason kids hate going back to school is they don’t want to have to wake up and do a schedule again. Preparing them at least by waking them early prior to school starting makes them more used to the routine before it has to start again.
Surprise your young ones at school by showing up for lunch if they are so scared of their first day they look like they’ll wet their pants. Allowing them half their day without mom or dad puts them at personal comfort on their own, and when you surprise them during their lunch hour you can see how well they’re doing, and they can be comforted and excited that you’re there for them. They’ll want to show you their teacher, their friends, their playground, and it builds confidence for all.
Have a special dinner for their first day of school as well, and be home when they get home, because they will have many many things to tell you about. Getting excited and being there for them on their first day of school and caring about their day makes them excited about day 2. If both parents can’t be home when they get home, at least call them or have a note on the door to greet them with. When you do get home, they get your undivided attention, and with their special dinner they can tell you all about it.
The key to making your kids excited about going back to school is being excited for them, and addressing their fears and concerns before school even starts. Making school a celebration gets everyone excited.