By: Rachael Bilello, DO. (MD Kid Care, Jericho, NY)
I thought I’d finally shaken that September anxiety. I think I was 30 when I could actually enjoy the end of August, without that nagging feeling that school was right around the corner. Then my kids started school. And now it’s back!
It’s not easy putting your kindergartener on the bus for the first time, or seeing your child cry because they don’t have any friends in their class. Not to mention awaiting the teacher assignments and whether they get the rumored “nice” teacher or the “yeller.” As a parent and protector, we want to take the entire burden from them. But the best we can do is support and guide them along the way and give them the tools they need to handle new situations.
Here are some ways to ease the transition:
- Fuel their minds and bodies with healthy foods!
Make sure your child eats a nutrient-rich breakfast every morning. Healthy foods provide more consistent energy, rather than a sugar spike then drop. When packing lunches and snacks, include fruits, cut-up veggies, yogurt, granola, cheese, lean proteins and whole grains. If your child buys a lunch, make sure to go over the lunch menu in advance and agree on what he or she will buy, emphasizing the healthiest options.
- Kindergarteners are babies!
Well, maybe not babies, but they’re still so little! The full-day kindergarten is a long day of learning, schedules, and rule following. I often hear about these little ones acting out when they get home. I highly recommend giving them at least 30 minutes of free play when they get home, preferably outside where they can run it off! It almost always makes for a more successful evening of homework, dinner, and bedtime.
- Be in the know.
Ask specific questions to your children about their day. Anytime I ask, “How was your day?” I get a vague, “Good.” I’ve learned the more specific question I ask, the more information I get.
“Who did you sit next to at lunch?”
“What book did your teacher read?”
“What did you play at recess/gym?”
“Did anything funny happen today?”
- Keep an open mind about your child’s teacher assignment.
Children learn differently and thrive in different classrooms. What may be a “tough” teacher for one child may be a “strong” teacher for another. Don’t let rumors and other kids’ experiences lead you into stressing out unnecessarily.
- Keep an open dialogue with your child’s teacher.
Introduce yourself early in the year and reach out via email, phone calls, etc. Ask questions about classroom dynamics and what is expected of your child this year. Better to get to know the teacher before an issue arises.
Whether the first days of school bring your family excitement or anxiety, try to remember that the school year is just that, a year. The first week jitters will come and go. The key is to consistently encourage and support your child’s ups and downs throughout the year. It means more than you think.
Have a great school year!