7 pro tips for helping your child start school

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Whether your child is excited or scared about starting at school for the first time, adjusting to the new chapter in their life can be challenging for the both of you. Dr. Claire McCarthy, Faculty Editor at Harvard Health Publishing, gives you 7 tips to help your child start school for the first time, and we’ve summed them up for you.

Vilde Randgaard / August 15, 2019


(Read the full version of Dr. Claire McCarthy’s article here)

  1. Talk about it
    To prepare your child for the brand-new chapter in their life, talking about it is key. Talk about what the first day will look like from start to end and be very positive and supportive.

  2. Go shopping together
    Get your child more excited about school by letting them pick out a lunchbox, backpack, an outfit or a new pair of shoes and put them aside for the first day of school to make them extra special.

  3. Start planning — and trying — some healthy snacks and lunches
    This is especially true if you have a child who is very picky, or used to things that don’t work so well when packed for school. Look for recipes and try them out ahead. Some easy and healthy weekly meal preps can be found here.

  4. Get your child on a sleep schedule that will work for school
    This is incredibly important, and many families start it too late (or don’t do it at all). Your child should preferably sleep nine to 10 hours every night before getting up for school.
    Start turning off screens and having calm routines at least an hour before bedtime. Start this a week or more before school starts so that your child (and you) adjust to the routine.

  5. Plan ahead for all the changes in routine
    You don’t have to think through every possible scenario (as if that’s even possible), but doing some advanced planning can make a big difference.
    Lay out clothes for everyone the night before, make some casseroles on weekends to heat up quickly on busy days, and figure out back-up childcare or pick-up plans.

  6. Don’t overschedule your child (or yourself)
    Activities can be great, but don’t get overambitious, especially at the beginning. Besides the fact that kids need downtime, the transition to school can be stressful all around. Keep the schedule light until everyone gets their sea legs.

  7. Get to know the school community, if you can.
    Take advantage of any get-togethers offered by the school, or if you know some of the children your child will be at school with, then see if you can arrange a play date. That way your child will start school already having some friends, and you’ll get to know their parents.

Dr. McCarthy’s final tip is “don’t forget to take a big breath, enjoy yourself, and be proud. This is a milestone worth celebrating.”

Bonus advice: Since one of the first and most fundamental things your child is going to learn in school is reading, why not give them a little head start? With the learn-to-read game Poio, children are introduced to letters and words through an innovative and playful method. Read what teacher Joanne Sains says about the game here.