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First-Day-of-School Jitters: How to give your child a calm start

Whether your child is starting a new grade or new school, she's probably experiencing those Back-to-School Jitters. Here are ways you can help calm the fears:

  1. Visit First. If your child will be attending a new school, arrange to visit the classroom and meet the principal and teacher several weeks in advance. Take a picture with your child's name on the back to give to the teacher. Ask for a copy of the previous year's yearbook or class picture to take home. Over the summer, familiarize your child with how she'll get to school.
  2. Find Out What's Hot. Ask teachers and other parents about the reigning tastes in clothes and practices?like whether it's cool to bring lunches in boxes or in bags. A new outfit can boost a child's confidence. Help your child lay out school clothes the day before.
  3. Go Easy on School Supplies. Unless you get a notice of what's required, go easy on buying supplies. Teachers often give specific lists on the first day. Besides, the promise of a shopping trip together after the first day will give your child something to look forward to.
  4. Sort the Feelings. Help your child put a name to her feelings and let her know they're normal: "Honey, everyone has the jitters on the first day of school. I did when I was going into second grade." Reassure her that she will make friends and feel at home.
  5. Help Him Feel Useful. Give your child something to think about other than himself. You might say: "You are so good at making people feel comfortable. Why not look for a chance to talk to someone who's lonely or scared?"
  6. Plan the Day Before. Get everyone home early the day before school starts. Help your child relax with a soak in the tub. Sit with her for a glass of warm milk before bedtime.
  7. Pack a Surprise. Lift your child's spirits with a tucked-in note, a Bible verse, a favorite food or maybe a small gift to let him know you're thinking of him.
  8. Pray. Pray with your child before bed. In the morning, pray a blessing over your child before she leaves for school?for example, Numbers 6:24-26: "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace."

Back to school?when children are required to buckle down to a more disciplined routine?is a great time for parents to commit to more discipline, too. A family prayer or devotional reading each morning before everyone goes separate ways will draw you together as a family and help you focus on what matters most. Nothing fancy required?some verses, a song, a prayer, a blessing. On the days it just doesn't happen, let go of the guilt, but keep the blessing.

?Barbara Curtis
Mother of 11, educator and author
Petaluma, CA

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