Go over your child's school-year routine with him before classes start. Discuss your family routines, when you will get home from work, how he will get to and from school, and the family's evening plans. Driving the bus route with him before school begins, walking with him to school the first week, or finding an older child to walk with him are all things that may help to reduce back-to-school, or first-day-of-school jitters, DeBroff explains.
Also, be sure to review safety precautions regarding traffic and strangers with your child before he heads off to school. Remind him about watching for cars, staying on the sidewalk or in the cross walk (as well as following the direction of crossing guards); and remind him never to talk to strangers or get into a stranger's car.
Getting your child involved with school preparation can also alleviate some fear or worry by giving him an active roll and some "control" over the unknown. A good way to get your child actively involved in his school experience is to invite him to plan his own school lunches. "With your child's help, come up with a list of his favorite lunches and snacks to pack for school in order to make grocery shopping easier," suggests DeBroff.
The Big Day
Moms and dads can do a few extra special things to mark the beginning of the school year. DeBroff suggests baking your child a batch of his favorite cookies as something to look forward to after the stress of the first day. She also suggests:
- Make a special family dinner the night before or after his first day of school. Talk through some of the highlights of the summer and state one goal for the coming school year.
- Pack all the items you and your child need for work, school, or daycare and load up the car the day before the big first day. "If that's not feasible, place coats, bags, and lunch boxes by the door," says DeBroff.
- Designate a shelf, basket, or area by the front door for each family member to store what he or she needs the next morning.
- Pack lunches and refrigerate sandwiches while making dinner. Put your car keys with the sandwiches, if it helps your remember to add the sandwiches to lunchboxes in the morning (or put a note on a lunchbox to help remind you).
- Check the weather report and then have your child pick out the clothes she wants to wear the night before, or lay out two outfits for her to choose from.
- Decide the night before what to serve for breakfast to avoid early-morning debates. "Some hot items, like pancakes, French toast, and bacon can be made ahead of time and reheated," says DeBroff. "Also, keep child-size cups of milk and juice in the fridge so your child can help herself."
- Celebrate the first day. "Take pictures, and pick [the same] spot to do this in each year, such as the front porch or steps," DeBroff suggests.