ANXIETYS BITCH BLOG
I get back to school anxiety even though I have been out of school for a while now, ok a long ass time! Each year, as my children would start the first day of school, early in September, I would allow the beast to attack. I still do not sleep well the night before school begins and my anxiety makes me pace like a rabid dog. Oddly, my own children dealt with first day jitters like rock stars! Next week, tens of thousands of children will begin their path along the educational highway. Some of these eager minds will be the first child of their parents to start school while others will be the last little to take flight. Don't fool yourself and assume one is easier than the other. They are both hard and emotionally draining on both the parents and children.
I have volunteered enough in kindergarten classes and have chatted with enough teachers to come up with a list to hopefully help make that first day slightly easier.
1. It is likely that your young child will be a bit scared but too nervous to say it. Many children already have the fear of not fitting in with their peers at this age. There is also those who are too scared to say they are frightened in front of their older siblings. The best thing to do is invent a super secret signal with your child. It could be like pinching their little finger or squeezing their hand twice or three times ( which means I love you). My children would rub their cheek when they were nervous or scared or would pull on the collar of their shirt. Then I would mimic their actions to let them know I knew they were scared. This always kept them calm. It is a private special connection that will reassure your child as you let them go that it will be ok avoiding any embarrassment.
2. Try to give your child a drink in their lunch that they can open on their own Please don't send them with some crazy sugary fruit drink that they have to get the straw out, then punch the little bastard into the container themselves. Kids, especially in new environments, are already nervous and fidgety so squeezing that juice all over themselves is highly likely. No screwed on so tight that they need to be accidentally exposed to gamma rays during the detonation of an experimental bomb ( think the green guy, named HULK) to open the container. This also goes for the hard to rip open package of treats that you thought were an amazing idea for their first lunch at school. Ain't nobody got time for that.
3. Do not decide the first week of school is a great time to start your kids to like a new food. They will not eat it unless ten other kids are eating the same thing. I too, wanted my kids to eat healthily and I really wanted the school to think I was the best damn parent that they had ever encountered. I wanted them to put my name on a plaque. I gave my son granola and dried apricots. It sat sadly in his lunch bag for three days until I gave up and took it out. Give them something that they like and will eat, maybe not a bag of chips and a pop tart, but something reasonable. Kids will eat very little at first as this will be a very sociable time for some and a very stressful time for others. Either way, food only gets nibbled on. Have your child help make their lunch the night before to make sure they know what they need to eat and drink. This will help with the crazy hour in the morning too as everyone rushes to get ready for the day.
4. The week or so before school starts, try to practice eating out the lunchbox at home. Teach them that they need to put their own garbage away, which by school age they should be doing at home too. Practice with your child how to take out and put in, their lunch box inside their backpack. Many kids will bring home that bright rainbow coloured lunch box when you know Mary Lou went to school with a blue Roots one. Name on the lunch box will help identify each child for the teacher as well.
5. If your wee one has to use an inhaler, please make sure that the teacher and office are notified of this. Most schools require them to stay in the office to be administered by them if needed. Please talk to school before telling little Billy that he can freely go to his bag and puff!
6. Try and make eye contact with other newbie parents as your child is most likely going to become friends with at least one to two of these other poor tired parents kids! They are also going through the same process as you so why not give each other support.
7. Since you will not be there to do up every button and unzip that jacket for Ronnie Jr., teach your child how to do these actions on their own. Hanging up their bag and outside clothing will help the already stressed overworked teacher. Same goes for shoes. NO LACES. Please send those feet in velcro or snapped shoes. First, it is hard for the teacher to tie over forty shoes and zip up over twenty jackets. Recess will be over before he or she finishes. Secondly, if there is a fire drill, kids need to be able to get out that door fast. You will be thankful for these skills when you are waiting outside during a torrential downpour at home time, and your child comes out quickly. Be nice and try not to smirk at the poor father or daycare provider drowning in the rain.
8. Being able to use the washroom and to wipe themselves will benefit everyone by this age. Some teachers do a "mass", everyone line up to use the washroom even if you absolutely don't have to go Bobby, but most expect the child to tell them when the facility is required. Having a change of clothes from day one, as accidents to happen even with the kid that can hold like a camel. Training them to wash their hands will cut down on illness and grossness being spread.
9. As I said with their lunch boxes, label everything. Bags, shoes, coat, hat, etc. Lost and found in schools are always overflowing. The chances of your child losing an article of clothing are high so be prepared.
10. If your child has allergies, please make the school aware at the time of enrollment. Notes will be then sent home with each child in their class to make sure that their families are aware of a child with a certain type of allergy is in the class. Your child's name will not be given. Same goes for any illnesses that your child may have. If it is something that warrants the teacher to be aware, then go in and talk to the teacher. They will be able to then make a plan to best accommodate your child's needs.
11. Please teach your child to write their name. This is a great aid to a teacher and your child if they can identify and label their own work. A child's sense of ownership will do away with any anxiety. If they are struggling with their full name, allow Zakary to write Zak. If they can't write their name, try to get them to recognize their name then.
12. Get into the habit to empty their bag every day. There will most likely be a bag that will go back and forth between home and school that will have need to be seen paper work in it. Notes to or from the teacher will be placed in there too. Don't be that parent who's kid never brings back the permission form to the class trip to the zoo.
13. Especially after school the first few weeks, your little one will be exhausted so trying to drag them all over town each night may not be the best move. Melt downs are going to happen and not always just by the children!
14. Reassure your child that you will be back to pick them up at home time ( or dad, or grandma or their daycare provider. Most kindergarten classes allow parents to pick up right from the classroom door providing they have an outdoor access door. Don't be late and cause unnecessary stress and anxiety for your child. Also, make sure your child knows who is picking them up. The teacher has a list of who are permitted to pick up your child. If your child does not know them, meltdowns will occur.
15. Do not get mad at your child if they react in tears the first few days but also do not give in too much. They are in need of your guidance and this is one of those times, that parenting is hard. Hugs and kisses and waving are permitted. Just don't lurk in the windows as stalking is illegal!
My daughter took a bus her first day of school, and we followed the bus after she was picked up. My paranoid Mama Bear extinct made my pulse rapid and my anxiety was sky high. I am was relieved that I did this though as my little bumble bee went into a grade one class and it took them over twenty minutes to figure out where she was. I was a mess yet my daughter thought since she was obviously smarter than those other kids, she should just skip straight up to grade one. My son, he was the kid who did not want me to walk him his first day. I explained to him that he was barely four so he did not have a choice. Unfortunately, as we stood outside in the pouring rain on his first day, his anxiety kicked in. He began to cry and cling to me. My big brave fearless little warrior suddenly was a puddle of tears. What made things far worse, his Daddy was home, bedridden, with cancer. As his new teacher, about forty parents, the whole office staff including the principal stood watching this he screamed out, " I just want to go home and take care of my daddy". I managed to bite very hard the inside of my lip so I would not cry or show any emotion as his poor teacher literally dragged him inside with his soaking wet sneakers screeching on the floor. My heart was shattered. I cried all the way home and sobbed all day. The teacher was kind enough to call me at lunch time to say he was fine and doing well. When I picked him up later that day, he came running out and thanked me for letting him stay.
Kids will cry. They may cling to you or ignore you. Melt down completely. They may kick at you or run away from you. They are not upset with you, and you are not a bad parent for walking away. They will adjust as will you. I always tell new parents, if I can survive, so can you! Enjoy your morning if you able to have the day off to yourself. Have a coffee or tea or something stronger if you must, just be sober at pick up time!