6 Tips for Managing Those Big Emotions
The first day of school is a major milestone for your child. It’s a huge one for you, too.
A few years ago, I took my son to school for his very first day of kindergarten. When I walked him up the hill to the school grounds, it dawned on me: I had never been without him. From the moment he was born to this very first day of school, he was never far away. When he wasn’t in my arms or just in front of me, I could always look at him on the baby monitor or hear him playing in the next room.
For the first time, it felt like I was letting go.
First-Day Mixed Emotions Are Normal
It was an extremely emotional morning – for me, not for him. He didn’t know anyone at his new school but he already managed to make one or two friends before the morning bell rang. And once the bell rang, he ran eagerly into the classroom and followed his teacher’s instructions. But me? I spent some time in the parking lot feeling emotionally overwhelmed. I couldn’t help but wonder if I had made a mistake by letting him go. I was kicking myself for deciding not to homeschool.
Maybe I went a little overboard, but those kinds of mixed feelings are normal on the first day.
This is a brand new experience for you and your little one and you still don’t know the answers to all the questions that kept you up the night before.
“Is he going to be nervous around all those new people?”
“Will he eat his lunch?”
“Is he going to make any friends?”
“What if he gets in trouble?”
With worries like those, who wouldn’t be a mess of emotions?
Dealing with First-Day Parent Jitters
Now that I’ve seen two children through their first days of school and spoken with countless parents who have been through the same thing, I know that those strong feelings are normal. And I also know that there’s really nothing to worry about.
Here are some things to remember that can help you cope with those first-day jitters.
It’s the First Step in a New Adventure
The first day of school marks the start of an exciting time in your child’s life. He’s trading the high chair and playdates for making his own friends and discovering what he has a passion for. It’s all part of growing up, and even though it might feel like you’re letting go, you’ll still get to be there to support your child through all of it.
Your Child Is Better Prepared than You Think
If you’re like me, you’re worried that nothing you did prepared your child for what awaits him in the classroom.
He can’t seem to get his socks on right, he always forgets to brush the teeth on the bottom-left side of his mouth, he gets lost in daydreams a lot – how is he ever going to learn to read, write, and do math?
The truth is, your child is better prepared than you think. Learning comes naturally to children. They’re driven to absorb as much information as possible and learn skills quickly. Even better, the Montessori method is designed to nurture that natural curiosity and use it to build a solid foundation for a lifetime of learning.
You’ll be amazed at how well he adapts and how well he does in the classroom (even if he still struggles with his socks).
Plan a Little Self Care
A few hours after I dropped off my son on his very first day of school, I decided to go out to my favorite restaurant. I skipped the appetizers. I skipped the entrees. I skipped everything on the menu except for one item: the Triple Chocolate Cake.
It wasn’t my proudest moment, but I needed to do something I could enjoy, something that would help calm me down and give me a break from ruminating.
Plan a little self care for yourself. It doesn’t have to be dessert. You can bring a good book to your favorite coffee shop. You can spend the day with a friend and talk through your feelings. Or you can set aside some time to write an entry in your journal and work some things out on the page.
Know That Your Child Is in Good Hands
When you chose Apple Montessori, you didn’t just choose us because of the many educational advantages that come with a Montessori education. You also chose us because of the care and security we provide for your little one.
The Montessori method is about nurturing the whole child. That means giving them the time they need, giving them extra attention, and making sure every student feel comforted, safe, and supported.
We’re also first-day experts. Every year, we welcome dozens and dozens of first-time students to our classrooms, so we know how to make every child feel welcomed.
Remember the Positives
Having a young child means you’re in constant demand. All the feeding, dressing, cleaning, and more that takes place throughout the day (and often throughout the night) can really start to wear you down after a while.
When your child starts school, you can finally get a little break from the constant stress and endless demands on your time. He’ll also grow and become a little more independent and develop his own personality. It’s a big adjustment, but it isn’t a bad one. All of this will help you value and appreciate the time you spend with your little one even more and give you opportunities to be proud of the person he’s becoming.
Talk to Your Child’s Teacher
If you can’t shake some of your worries no matter what you try, it’s okay to talk to your child’s teacher about them. If you worry someone will forget about his food allergy, or that he will feel left out from some of the activities, or that there might be a bit of a language barrier, a teacher will be able to tell you what steps they take to make sure your little one will have a great first day.
It’s a great way to reassure yourself that everything will be okay, and it’s a whole lot better than spending the rest of the day at home imagining all the ways the day could go wrong.
It Gets Easier
The first day is always rough on parents, but those mixed feelings will soon pass.
Remember that your child will be okay, that he will love spending time at school and making friends, and that you will see him thrive and develop in all sorts of fantastic and interesting ways.
And when you see how excited and happy he is when you pick him up at the end of the school day, you’ll know sending him was the right choice.