Calming First Day of School Fears

By Jessica Streit

The start of school can be a exciting for many students. But for some, it is a nail-biting, nerve-wracking and downright scary time. Meeting new people, spending time in an unfamiliar setting, and being away from home can create fear and nervousness in your children.

Teachers are experienced in dealing with this once your child has arrived at school and you’ve left. However, there are steps you can take before school begins to ease those first day of school fears. 

Take a Tour - Most schools offer an “Open House” or “Meet The Teacher Night” before school begins. Use that time to take a tour of the school. Check out the classroom, the cafeteria, the art room and the playground too. Find the places where your teacher has already included your child’s name to the room (or point out where their name will be if it’s not there yet). Look for spots in the classroom that will be fun for your child. If he likes science, then look to see if there’s a class pet or a science center. If she’s a fan of the computer, take a look at those too. Find something in the room that may excite your child for what is to come.

Of course, don’t forget to talk to the teacher a little bit! He or she will help to ease those fears some as well.

On the way home, take the path that the bus may drive and talk about what your child may see as they are riding on the bus for the very first time. Your school may even have a bus sitting outside for the night of open house for kids to sit in so they know a little bit about riding a bus on the first day.

Read a Few Books - There are many, many books available at the library abou the first days of school. I really like “Mrs. Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten,” “The Berenstain Bears Go to School” and “The Night Before Kindergarten.”

Reading is a great way to bring about this next important step.

Talk it Out - It is very important to have conversations WITH your child, not just to him or her. It’s very common for parents to say things to their children like, “you are going to love school,” or “You are excited, aren’t you?” But often times, the parent forgets to take a few minutes to allow their child to just talk. Asking questions like: “How are you feeling about school?” or “Do you have any questions about what is going to happen at school?”

Give your child multiple opportunities to discuss how they are feeling about school. Ask them in different ways on different occasions. Hopefully the right question will give your child the opening he or she needs to express what is going on inside their head.

Mommy & Me Date - Part of the issue for children who are starting school is leaving mom at home. Schedule a date with your child to celebrate the beginning of school. Spending a little special one-on-one time together may help lessen the anxiety by giving them something to look forward to. Let your son or daughter pick your destination and help plan the day too.

First day of school fears are very common in children. It’s important to remember that those fears can sometimes take a couple of days or even weeks to subside. There is no time limit on how long it takes someone to become comfortable with the changes in their life but it will happen.

Pretty soon, your child will be loving school and you are going to love seeing how he (or she) grows!