First day at school – The big leap towards adult life
As a little boy, I was lucky enough to live in a beautiful city where anywhere you looked trees, hills and most importantly a fantastic community. It was part of an era when socializing happened on the streets, in neighborhoods, on a football field.
I feel so lucky as I am looking back into those vivid memories. We knew everyone around; the place had lots of kids who had tons of fun without adult supervision at all. The thing is that I barely remember if we ever did anything bad. It was enough to have a football or two bikes. Then we were set for 12 hours of fun every day.
Still, have many memories of when I was in kindergarten with my friends, but one of the very best parts of my life came after kindergarten. As we grow up, we listened to thousands of stories about our parent’s adventures in School, so we all thought it must be a fantastic place, so I remember I was looking forward very much to experience it myself. And it did not disappoint me.
Now that I grown up and working with kids and learning about them I understand the reason why we had such an easy and glorious time in school.
We knew almost everyone, and we started the first day at school together with friends. It was an easy transition. The only thing we had to adapt is the fact that we had to focus a bit more on learning. It was difficult as I remember because all we wanted to do is go out and play football, so we were constantly looking at the clock on the wall.
My only bad memory is about the school boss who was a giant man (even with adult standards) and let’s just say he was not a bubbly person. We got some random treatment sometimes for no reason sometimes for being a bit noisier on the 10 min break. But that is all.
Not everyone was experiencing the same way. When parents were asking me about this topic, I always say that the preparation has to start very early. Early socializing can help significantly in the transition but even if somebody got used to meet new friends still can get overwhelmed during those first few days. Let`s see how to prepare a child for the first day of the school week.
- First obviously is to talk about school a lot. Tell your child what they can expect. New kids, teachers, classroom, etc. don`t only show the good stuff. Try to insert some seriousness and prepare how to react in situations what they could encounter.
- Try to visit the school just before summer break so kids can see what’s going on. Visit classrooms, playground, etc.
- Prepare them emotionally too not only academically.
- Ask the school to help parents in organizing play sessions during summer so the kids can bond and this way they could help each other come through the hard part. If the school has a good system in place, then they will have a mild week when they were focusing on playtime so kids can slowly adjust. In Finland for example that is the accepted way. They were not bombarding the kids with books and the first weeks. Still, kids are just as bright than anywhere else on the planet. Maybe they happier and more confident as well as a result.
- Let your child make choices (possibly earlier than this). Like choosing their school supply, T-shirt to wear (if no uniform rules), etc. Let them build their identity. If they don`t know who they are then, others will tell them. I would not like that, do you?
- Make the first school morning extra smooth. Prepare everything a day before, wake up earlier, don’t
`get super excited, try to act normal. I know it is a big thing, but if you were telling them 54 times in the morning, then they will get frustrated.
- Try to design a good lunch box selection. Avoid sugary stuff, try fruit and vegetables maybe some nuts. Pack water and also tell them to drink plenty. It helps to stay focused.
As always I kindly ask you to add few more suggestions in the comment section so we can all have a better plan.
What happens if the first day at school is a disaster?
The first thing you should do is: BE home when your child gets home on the first day. What I think is paramount because that first look and body language can tell you a lot about the previous few hours.
Be very understanding and let your child talk. Listen to every word carefully. Do not use your phone at all until you eased away from the concerns and frustration. Make sure they leave the conversation being optimistic and feel that they can try again. Communicate the issue with the teacher but ask them not to act too differently next day.
Your child doesn’t have to know that you were managing things at the background. Otherwise, they won’t claim victory over fear they will think it is yours. Repeat the previous day routine. Stress-free morning and a little encouragement on the way.
It can take a second to enjoy school or can take weeks. Rare that somebody does not enjoy it at all. Nowadays bullying is pretty much everywhere so it can happen and its everyone`s duty to prevent to happen.
My biggest advice (not only at transition periods like school etc.) is: You must listen and pay full attention to your child. They must feel to be loved and valued. If you do that, then there is nothing they can not conquer.
What is your memory of the first day at school?