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Parents and teachers joke about how parents take the first day of school harder than the child, and in many cases, this is true! But for children who tend to be anxious, aren’t comfortable in social situations, or haven’t spent time following directions of anyone except their own parents, they can feel a little nervous about the new experience.

Tips to Calm First Day of School Jitters

Planning ahead, leaving space for emotions, and being open and honest can help your child feel more at ease during their first day. Below are some tips for helping their first day of school go as smoothly as possible:

Meet the Teacher Event

Before school begins, we host a “Meet the Teacher” open house where your child can meet their teacher, explore the workshops, and receive their Kids Village book bag. Be sure to attend our Meet the Teacher event with your child and let them take as much time as they want to explore. The more comfortable (and excited) they get during the event, the better they’ll feel on their first day.

Find Peers in Classes

Some parents like to make requests for friends or other family members to be in the same class, when possible. Having a familiar face can make a new school and new teacher seem less scary. However, many students don’t have these connections. Instead, see if you can meet another student or two from your child’s classroom during the Meet the Teacher event to introduce your child to. See if you can find something the children have in common with each other, consider scheduling a playdate, grab ice cream together after the Meet the Teacher event.

Play School at Home

If you’ve had a Kids Village tour or gone to the Meet the Teacher event, you probably have a good idea of how your child’s school day will look. Play with your child, make believing that your home is Kids Village. Have them carry their Kids Village book bag, read books together, practice learning a letter, do an art project, and maybe even cook a kid-friendly recipe in the kitchen. Your child will adore the extra time with you and will get to experience a “day at Kids Village” in a comfortable, home environment.

Read “First Day of School” Books

Children can learn a lot from stories, and it can help address fears that they may not be able to express or identify, as well as ┬ámaking space for them to ask questions they may not yet have thought to ask. We recommend making a visit to the library to read as many “First Day of School” books as you can find. Go for a combination of tender and funny to keep your child engaged, and leave space for them to ask questions about each book as you finish. Here’s a great list of suggested books by TODAY.

Ask Them About Their Feelings

Preschoolers are still a little young for being able to fully express their feelings or concerns, but asking open-ended questions about how they feel about starting school can help give you a chance to calm their anxieties about any fears they may have. If they are able to express an emotion or fear, acknowledge it instead of downplaying it. “I’m scared the other kids won’t like me,” can be responded to with, “It can be scary to meet new people. Even grown ups are nervous meeting new people sometimes. I know that if I were a kid, I’d like you because you are funny, smart, and make up fun games to play like froggie tag. There are so many things that make you special. What are some things you can think of that make you a good friend?”

Let Them Choose Their First Day of School Outfit

We know, we know, you want that perfect insta-worthy first day of school photo. Who doesn’t? But if your child is uncomfortable in their clothes or with a new hairdo, they’ll have trouble setting that discomfort aside when entering Kids Village for the first time. Instead, consider letting them choose what outfit and hairdo they’d like for the first day of school. If you’re a stickler for aesthetics, consider letting your child help pick out a new school outfit at the store or choosing from 2 of their favorite hairstyles so they can feel like they have a say in their appearance.

Talk About Their Routine

Run through the daily routine with them, including when they’ll wake up, get dressed, what drop-off will look like, and what they can expect from school. If possible, give them specifics about what will happen at school as the end of the school day approaches so they can anticipate when they’ll see you again.

What Works for You?

If you’ve had children enter preschool before, what were some tips and strategies that worked best for you? Let us know in the comments below.

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