It truly takes a village…and at some point in your little one’s life, school and teachers will become a part of yours. As we approach Labor Day, many of you are preparing to send your child to school for the first time. By now you will have received your child’s class assignment and teacher. There probably have been excited (and exhausting) trips to pick out the required school supplies and a new backpack. As a mom myself, I know what the frenzied days leading up to that first morning can be like, and I want you to be armed with some tools to help you (and your child) survive that first day “outside the bubble.”
Having a comfort item can be helpful for your child as they transition from home to school. Instead of a toy or lovey, have your little one pick out their favorite family photo. They can keep this in their backpack or cubby, and when they are missing you, they will always be able to see your smiling face! It’s a great way to help them feel you are a part of their new space too.
Make a card for your child’s teacher. It’s a lovely way to begin your relationship and engage your child in the process of getting to know this new person in their life. I like the idea of using construction paper folded in half so that they can draw a picture on the front and then inside they can share a little about themselves, such as:
I like to be called: I go by my middle name and it was always confusing to my teachers on the first day when they called out my first name and I forgot to respond.
I am most excited about: help them think of all of the exciting things they might see or do on that first day of school.
I am a little nervous about: this will help the teacher to understand what might be worrisome to your little one.
A fun fact about me: they can be creative with this one!
My mom/dad wants you to know: do they have an allergy? something that makes them happy when they are sad? a favorite activity or one they struggle with?
End on a positive note: I’m looking forward to have a great year learning with you!
Take your child’s first day picture at home before you leave - they will be at ease in their familiar setting (and you won’t be crying yet). This way you can include everyone in the family in a photo or two as well, even the household pet! Making a fun “First Day of School” sign with the date can be a great family project. When you get to school, if they are still comfortable and smiling - which hopefully they will be - you can always get another first day picture there.
Lastly, bring sunglasses and tissues for YOU! You will be amazed at all the feelings coursing through you as they step through that doorway into their classroom. If you are headed off to work, make plans ahead of time with a favorite colleague to grab a cup of coffee and get a reassuring smile. If you are at home, try to plan a coffee or lunch with a fellow parent or friend for the same comfort. Breathe. This is the start of something amazing, and hopefully partnerships that you will cherish for the rest of their lives!