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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

First Day Jitters

As a child and as an adult who taught sixth grade students, I never slept well the night before the first day of school. I felt both excitement and fear at what the school year held for me. Now as a mom of a preschooler and third grader, I see my children experiencing those same feelings.

An easy way to help allay a child’s fears about the school year is to discuss them openly. Ask your child to describe if he is nervous and explain why. Be sure to share your own memories of first day jitters so your child knows his feelings are perfectly normal. Remind your child that everyone else starting the new school year, from the principal to the secretaries to the lunch ladies, are nervous.

Parents and their children can work together to ensure that all preparations for school have been made, which will help alleviate some anxiety. Labeling all school supplies and packing them in the book-bag, attending orientation or “Meet the Teacher” events, and setting out the first day of school outfit the night before will help adults and kids feel a sense of readiness.

Even if your child is a middle or high schooler, all parents can take something from Audrey Penn’s The Kissing Hand, a book about a raccoon who feels scared to go to school and whose mother kisses his hand so that he can hold it and feel her love the entire day. Sending an “I hope you’re having a good day” note in the child’s lunch bag or wallet or packing a special candy treat can give your child a boost (even if he is too embarrassed to admit it to you).

Contributed by Carrie Vittitoe, parent-writer for Today’s Family magazine.


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