I know that many parents are anxious about their child starting school. I’ve addressed that in previous posts as well as how to help a child who is anxious about going to school. I began thinking about how I felt when my children started school: EXCITED, EAGER and HAPPY, and how my children felt about going to school: as far as I know they were EXCITED, EAGER, and HAPPY. And, even though it was a very LONG time ago, I can still remember how EXCITED, EAGER, and HAPPY I was when I started school.
So what did my mother do all those years ago to help me and my sister look forward to going to school with eager anticipation? I know that I tried to copy her winning formula when it came time to send my own children to school.
- My mother had a matter-of-fact, upbeat and positive attitude about us going to school. I never heard her say anything negative about the school or our teachers. Children are so very sensitive to our emotions…if we are tense and anxious about something, they probably will be also.
- We went to a neighborhood school, so we knew many of the children in our classes. Try to make sure that your child has visited the school before the first day…you can also try to connect with other parents of his classmates and arrange playdates so that your child will feel more comfortable with the other children.
- We got a new pair of SCHOOL shoes and a new outfit to wear on the first day. And, when we got home from school each day, we took off our school clothes and put on play clothes. Somehow, that made “school” a very special place. Encourage your child to lay out his clothes the night before each school day…this will help lessen the last-minute rush in the morning.
- My mother encouraged us to bring friends home after school (she was a stay-at-home mom…as were most moms in those days). Whether you have a career or not, try to set aside some time, perhaps on the weekend, to enable your child to get together with some of her classmates. Maybe you can form a group with several parents and alternate having a little monthly party to celebrate one of the children’s birthdays, a holiday or whatever you wish.
- She loved hearing about our day at school…she was a great listener…what we did was important to her and she was happy to help us with homework or studying. In the early grades, I can remember sitting at the kitchen table and having her help me cut and glue magazine pictures. When I was in high school (and even in my college years), I can remember sitting on the floor at her feet, pad of paper and pen in hand, asking her, “Mom, how can I start this paper?”…and she would throw out several ideas and off I would go, scribbling like a maniac. Often, I would wind up changing the beginning that she had suggested, but her encouragement and willingness to help gave me the courage to trust my own inspiration and creativity. Try to be there for your child…always be ready to listen.
- As the school year progressed, my parents attended as many school functions as they could, whether it was a meeting with the teacher or a play we were in. This showed me that what happened at school was important to my parents, and therefore, to me. Do your best to fit school functions into your schedule…if you are not able to attend an event, make sure there is someone else there to represent you so that your child doesn’t feel you don’t care…because then he might not either.
So why did I love the start of school: I believed my parents loved it also, I had new clothes and new shiny shoes, I was going to spend the day with friends, I knew my parents loved me, and I felt that school (and learning) was IMPORTANT. When my children were ready to attend school, I tried to recreate what my mother had done for me. And I hope that my children will do the same for their children.