Author of the parenting book The Biggest Job We'll Ever Have, Laura Gauld, offers invaluable tips for the first few school days and a successful year.
Q: Entering a new phase can be stressful for children and parents. What's the best way attitude to take?
A: It doesn't matter if it is kindergarten or your first day as president of the company, everyone is nervous. Try to share those times with your child when you were scared and excited at the same time. Try not to add additional stress to your child by hovering and micro-managing every step of the new phase. Adopt a confidence attitude which communicates, "Yet, it is always tough at first, but you will do just fine." Don't oversell but you may want to add as you drop them off. "Make yourself proud. That's what counts!"
Q: What if your child comes home after the first few days and says they don't like it? What words of advice can a parent offer?
A: It is always tempting to try and help figure out this situation. The best thing we can do as parents is just listen. Again, the less we talk, the more we can really hear what our child is saying. After fully listening, it may be helpful to share a few lines like, "It sounds like you are having a tough time. What are you going to do?" or "I am sorry that you are having a tough time, but hang in there." Unless we are really distressed about the situation and potential risks to our child, it is best to let them work through this period of unhappiness.
Q: School schedules can conflict with those of working parents. Would you suggest parents take time off during that first week?
A: There is no replacement for showing up, especially on the first day of something new, which is such a rite of passage and will be an important memory. If you cannot be there on the first day, make a point of sending someone to replace you who is important in your child's life and take the time to explain that you wish you could be there, but you will call or you will be there on another day, (try to be specific.) You can also help make the day special by leaving a handwritten note in their backpack or by the bed to see that night.
Do you have any tips for preparing for the first day of school?