This is a unique year for Little Lambs because we have a much higher number of new students and families than usual. We are SO excited to get to know all of them as the school year gets under way! Given the number of children who are new to being in a school setting, we want to take this opportunity to provide some tried-and-true tips for a successful first day of school. These ideas and pointers come from our combined 60+ years of teaching experience and are helpful for brand new students, as well as for our returning "veterans."
- First, be careful, as a parent, how you define a "successful" first day or week of school. It is VERY likely your child will cry, but that doesn't mean he or she was unsuccessful. A successful day is one in which your child is able to be distracted from feeling sad or worried so that he or she will join in with the class on some or all activities. That's all! Some children will go in and out of tears those first few days or weeks of school, and that's totally normal. This is a big change for your child, so just be supportive and patient.
- While we're on the subject of tears, please don't offer your child a treat or other bribe if he or she doesn't cry. First, this is an unrealistic expectation for most new students and even for some returning students. Second, most parents end up giving the promised treat anyway, setting the precedent that the child doesn't need to meet an expectation to receive a reward. We pray the children will learn that education is its own reward. This understanding comes naturally to children who are allowed the time and freedom to succeed in the classroom, without artificial external expectations.
- Make your goodbye quick. After a couple of minutes to allow your child to observe and get his or her bearings, give your student one hug and one kiss, allow a teacher to take him or her from you, and then you are free to scoot on out the door. Please don't linger, trying to convince your child not to cry; it most likely won't work. If your child truly cannot be consoled or distracted within 10-15 minutes, we will call and let you know. We have only needed to do this once in over twenty years, so the odds are good that your child will settle in just fine.
- As wonderful as school is for children, and as much as they will come to love it, please don't build up too many expectations for your child's first day. Often, in parents' eagerness to make school sound fun and exciting, they tell children, "You will get to paint, and play with playdough, and go to the park, and play at the sand table" etc. The children will do all these things...eventually. It doesn't all happen for every child on the first day; that's just not possible. Encourage your child with the knowledge that he or she will have time to try many different activities. Every day will include stories, singing, play time and snack time, but the specific activities vary greatly from day to day. Your child will definitely be busy!