Heading back to school can be hard for everyone, parents and their kids. Particularly in the younger years, the transition can be drastic, and children and their moms and dads can struggle with making this change. For example, first graders, who are now in school the entire day and also have increased academic responsibilities, may become clingy, tearful, and even regressive in their behaviors. Parents may not know how to help them, and may likewise become frustrated and overwhelmed. Here are some tips for families to cope with the first grade jitters:
Even though it can be discouraging, parents don’t need to be overly alarmed if their first graders seem to struggle or act anxiously the first few weeks, as this is completely normal. Moms and dads should balance tolerating behavior that may be somewhat regressive (such as crying or having temper tantrums) while also holding their children to a certain expectation. For example, a parent might say, “sweetheart, I know this is tough for you, but you do need to go to school, and I promise I’ll be right here when you get back.” Overall, patience is key; this phase will pass!
Meet The Teacher Before School Begins
Having your child meet the teacher beforehand can help ease some anxiety; the more your first grade understands what school is going to be like, the less he/she will worry. Meeting the teacher, seeing the classroom, and overall getting a sense of how the school year will go can help alleviate worry and also get kids excited for what is to come. Also, if your child is particularly anxiety-prone, make sure to privately tell this to the teacher; this is great information for a teacher to know, and everyone can work together as a team to ensure the best experience for your first grader.
Give Children Language To Express Their Feelings
Young kids often do not yet possess the vocabulary to articulate difficult emotions; they don’t know how to convey that they’re feeling worried, vulnerable, or confused, and so they turn to tantrums, crying, or other behaviors to try to cope. Parents can help by giving them the language to express these big feelings. For example, you might say, “Timmy, you seem like you’re feeling anxious about school starting tomorrow-want to tell me about it?” It also can be useful to explore both negative and positive emotions with these little ones by asking them to tell you one thing about school that they enjoyed and one thing that they found difficult.