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Top 10 Tips for Parents of New Students

Beginning school can be challenging for both parents and their children. It is often the first time a child will make friends with someone who is not a sibling, cousin or a neighbor. The friendships formed in pre-school can last a lifetime for both children and their parents. What a wonderful time it can be! The following tips will help ease all of you into your child’s new life as a student.

  1. Talk about school. Share that there will be children to play with and some art and singing but keep it simple, school is a very new concept for them.
  2. Trust your teachers. You chose your school for a reason. Your teachers know a lot about this age and about early childhood development. They will help your child and you through this new school experience.
  3. Let teachers know about changes at home. If a parent goes on a business trip or there is a new baby brother or sister, tell your teacher. Changes at home could impact the way your child responds during their school day. The more information your teachers have, the better equipped they will be to address your child’s needs.
  4. Dress for mess. At my school, kids get messy. We encourage parents to dress their children in familiar and comfortable clothes.  This is all part of the transition in bringing the familiar from home to their new school setting.

    [caption id="attachment_519" align="alignright" width="285"]First Day at Mary Meyer School (Sept '04) My Son’s First Day of Class at Mary Meyer.[/caption]

  5. Who IS this kid?! After starting school, your child might act differently. He/she might have a potty training setback or they may not want to go to school. Don’t worry — this is very common and will settle as your child adjusts to their new routine. Call the school’s director; they are a knowledgeable (and calming) resource!
  6. Believe half of what your child tells you about their day — if they tell you anything at all.  Parents want to be a fly on the wall and children are imaginative little beings. They will sometimes concoct elaborate stories about their day to grab your attention. Ask them open-ended questions to facilitate discussion.
  7. Don’t over schedule  Making new friends and experiences is exhausting work for young children. Scheduling playdates or soccer or dance classes might be too much at the beginning of the school year. Schedule extra snuggles at bedtime, but not much else.
  8. Let your child set the pace. Parents…you have long legs! Hold your child’s hand while walking, but let them set the pace. This will slow you down and help to calm you both as you enter this happy new stage in your lives.
  9. Always say goodbye and once you’ve said goodbye…leave. When saying goodbye, some children will cry or hang onto a parent. Ask a teacher to help with this transition. Warning: they may have to peel your child off of you. However, after that final goodbye kiss and often before you’ve even turned the corner, your child will likely be happily laughing and playing with a friend.  Most schools will call to let you know that everything is fine. If not, it’s okay to call and check in.
  10. Relax and Enjoy the Ride.  Every child is different. Some children will dash right into school and easily adjust, while others will be more cautious. When my son began preschool I was positive that he would be fine. However, I sat on the school stairs for two weeks as he adjusted to his new environment. My daughter, who has always been cautious, was ready for me to leave on her first day. You never know how your child might respond. Sit back. Relax and enjoy this special time. As the transitions have settled into a routine, you will be overjoyed when your child and a fellow student call to each other from across the street and exclaim, “Look! There’s my friend!”

Kevin O’Brien

Director, Mary Meyer School