It’s that time of year again! Backpacks are packed, supplies are purchased, new teachers to meet and greet…it’s back to school!
Even though our school is open year-round, we tend to have primary students who graduate on to kindergarten/first grade around this time of year. It’s a bittersweet moment to have to say “good bye”, but exciting as we look forward to helping prepare our students for their first day of school.
In Montessori, we encourage independence in every aspect of the child’s daily routine. Here are a few helpful tips to help your child start the year off right, while promoting their independence and self confidence.
- Self reliant. Allow your child to help purchase their new school supplies and pack their own backpack the night before.
- Healthy diet. Be sure to make enough time for family breakfast each morning. This helps encourage a healthy diet, gives the child a great start to the day, strengthens their socialization skills, and allows you to discuss the day’s schedule. Think “brain food” when packing your child’s lunch, make sure that everything has a nutritional value; food that will help their concentration throughout the rest of the day.
- Help children to help themselves. Encourage them to walk to their classroom on their own, given their safety is not compromised. This promotes self confidence as they complete the routine on their own, free from adult interaction.
- “I work while you work“. Say “good bye” and reassure them that you will be back to pick them up after the day is through.
- Keep your “good bye” brief, but real. It’s common to want to drop off your child at the door and “slip away” while they’re distracted, as if to prevent them from seeing you leave and become more upset. I would encourage you, instead, to get down to their level, say “good bye”, and reassure them that you will return after the work day is through, leaving with a soft, brief hug. Providing children with objective, factual events will help build their trust in you. Seeing mom and dad return at the end of the day, fulfilling their promise, helps them to understand that this is okay, and that school is a fun place to be! (remember to not linger in the doorway, or in the child’s view, this will only prolong the process)
- A healthy, organized morning routine. The morning of the first day of school can be a bit overwhelming. Place out a few outfits of choice the night before so that your child can independently pick out what they want to wear. Discuss the morning routine with your children the night before so that you know each other’s expectations.
- Review your school’s Parent-Student Handbook. This is important so that you know the policies of your new school, as well as emergency contact information.
- After school pick up. Invite your child to discuss their day on the car ride home. Questions such as “What new lesson did you learn today?” or “What was your favorite thing you did today?” promote healthy conversation, and strengthen your child’s language development.
It’s okay if the first day is not perfect. Just as you become anxious about perfecting your morning routine, your child is working through their own anxieties while they become comfortable with the transition to their new school. Calm parents make for calm children.
If you have any helpful tips to beat the “back to school blues”, we would love to hear them! There’s nothing better than hearing encouraging words from those experiencing the same thing as you.