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The First Day of School...Ready...Set...Go...!!

I make every effort to avoid hyperbole and absolutes, but by all accounts it is safe to say that students of all ages, parents, faculty, and staff look forward to the first day of school. This does not mean, however, that all students view this annual right of passage the same way.

For example, middle school students will exude the greatest amount of enthusiasm as they look forward to seeing friends, meeting new students, and determining whether everything they’ve heard about a particular teacher is true. Sixth graders will be the least confident, but generally will not show it. In reality, most will be wobbling in their shoes, stick to closely-knit peer groups for support, and more than likely turn their backs to parents at drop off – without a hug or kiss - for the first time in their school careers. Be prepared for this!

In the intermediate grades, there is a good amount of excitement. Attention will be paid to the re-establishment of the playground pecking order and new rules of play. Subtle, but important attention will be paid to their seat assignment, and to who’s the tallest or the fastest!

Though no less exciting, this day can be the most stressful for prekindergarten, kindergarten, and students of any grade new to the School. For this group, everything (another absolute) is big, new, and downright scary – in the “stop it some more” way.

Parents at all levels play an important role in reducing stress. Keep in mind the following:

  • For the youngest group, read a number of the great stories available that speak to the first day of school.
  • NEVER say, “Be good, or you’ll be sent to the principal’s office.” We don’t even have one.
  • Re-establish nightly routines – bath, bed-time story, next day materials/uniform laid out in advance, and earlier sleep time – now.
  • Remember that the fist day of school is harder on you than it is on them. Don’t let your stress and anxiety of letting go show.
  • Make it to Orientation. This is a must for the youngest and newest of our students.
  • Older students may become more quiet and reflective – leave them to their thoughts.
  • Over the next couple of days, include talk of the first day of school at dinner or other family time. Start by asking them to remember last year’s first day of school. Then ask, “What are you most looking forward to this first day of school?”      
  • Sleep patterns may be erratic – with excitement comes a bit of natural stress and anxiety. Don’t add to it.
  • Orientation is the day to LINGER. The first day of school is the day to SEPARATE.  Studies clearly show that parents who are reluctant to leave – even when the crocodile tears are flowing – send signals to their children that they don’t think they’re mature, capable, or ready enough to manage themselves independently.

Warren-Walker School is a well-honed machine at welcoming and making students of all ages feel comfortable, safe, and secure from day one. Everyone on this side of the equation is equally as excited and anxious. After 40 years, even I will experience some erratic sleep leading up to the first day of school!

 

Posted by Raymond Volker on Thursday August, 28, 2014

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