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Challenge: Back to School

When your calendar year starts in September

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You know you are a parent when you start referring to the first of the year as just after Labor Day. New Years is just a holiday that passes over winter break now. To celebrate the the "New Year" now, you are purchasing new supplies, clothes, shoes, attending orientation night and meet-the-teacher much to do and so much energy for the academic year ahead.

For many families this will be their first experience with school. If your child is just starting school this fall, you have your own set of questions, anxieties, and nervous energy. Well don’t fret. This is an amazing time, and this is when the time really starts to fly as a parent. So here are some tips to make the most of it for both you and your child.

Share only facts (and not assumptions): With the best of intentions, parents often describe what they think might happen in the first days of school. Unfortunately, this may set your child up for expectations that will not be met. Instead you want to prep your child with only facts such as: “I will drop you off at the classroom and pick you up at noon”, or “you are going to carry your new lunch box to school and you will have a place to keep it at school.” These facts can help your child feel prepared for school, yet not have expectations about activities they may do or people they may meet. Let that happen naturally for them without expectation. Your child’s teacher has a plan for this week and he/she has a great energy to help your child adjust.

Keep it low-key: Try not to create too much build-up before the first day of school. The more you build it up, the more your child may have nervous feelings. Your child will experience school in her own way, it may be similar to your first day of school, or it could be very different. Let her create her own experiences and relationships without being quizzed after school or prepped before school.

Trust the school and the teachers: Yes your child is unique, however, the school welcomes new students every year and is experienced in identifying just what your child will need. The teacher will not do all the things you do as a parent, so it may take your child some getting used to. Teachers have different relationships with children than their parents do, learning to develop new relationships is part of your child’s education.

Don’t fret the potty training: Many parents worry about accidents at school. “What will he do if he has to go and I’m not here to take him?” The teacher will show him the bathroom. This is part of the orientation that children get when they start school. It is standard practice to show children where the bathroom is almost right away. Also, know that every transition in a child’s life before age five can cause a regression in bathroom use. It takes time to understand the culture and schedule of a new situation, and your child will figure it out. If your child comes home in different clothes or carrying a bag of wet clothes, my best advice is to not mention it. Send a set of clean clothes with him tomorrow and only discuss it if he brings it up. If you are concerned, call or email the teacher when your child is not listening. Focussing on the issue can add unneeded stress to the situation.

For more tips on starting the school year off right visit my blog.

Have a wonderful start to your school year!

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