SMU’s EAP Offers Tips for Your Child’s First Day of School


The start of a new school year brings excitement and nervousness for both a parent and child. From finding the perfect outfit for the first day of school to getting back into the swing of school work and preparing lunches, getting back into a routine can be stressful and exhausting for parents and children alike.

Children may need help dealing with the stress that can occur when a routine changes. When a child’s routine has changed they might become forgetful and exhausted more quickly. As a parent, you might be worried about your child’s safety and emotional well-being. There are things you can do to help you and your child prepare for getting back into a routine with the start of school.

Planning ahead will make it easier for both of you. Many school districts will provide you with information on what to expect for sending your child back to school.  There might been new changes to the school or a new teacher that is starting.

Some of the feelings that your child might be feeling could include:

  • Separation anxiety from a parent or caregiver
  • Nervousness about school work
  • Worried about who he or she will sit with at lunch or play with at recess
  • Nervous about being picked on by another child

Here are a few ways that you can help your child ease back into a school routine.

  • Be positive.  If your child is nervous to return back to school and is struggling with being away from the rest of the family, talk to your child and reassure him or her that you will all be there upon returning from school. Offer to tape a family photo to a note book or pack one inside a backpack.
  • Communicate and talk. Be sure to talk to your child about what to expect in his or her new class and what he or she might be learning through the school year.  Offer to help with any homework or questions that might come from new subjects being covered.
  • Encourage new friendships. Children can become nervous and anxious when thinking about who is in their class and who will be there to play during lunch and recess. Encourage your child to make new friends during the first few weeks of school. Most schools do not allow children to pick their classes and they will need to make friends with others that are in their class. Talk to your child about new relationships and how lifetime friends can evolve from being in class with someone.
  • Start a routine early. Many children will be given flexibility to stay up past their “school night” bedtime during the summer. It might be helpful to start getting back to a routine a few weeks before school starts. This will help your child adjust to a schedule and ease back into a routine.
  • Set homework and curfew rules. Before school starts, plan a homework and curfew schedule. Set clear rules and expectations and ask for your child to participate in creating some of the rules.
  • Have fun. Preparing for school usually includes shopping for new school supplies. Something that can help excite your child is by making this a fun tradition. You can also organize your child’s room before returning back to school for the year. Make this into a fun activity. This is a good way to encourage your child to practice different organization skills which might help with getting back into good habits at school.

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About Mary Stall

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