Back-to-school season brings with it many big feelings for both parents and students. For young children, it’s a big transition and change. And while it is often an exciting new adventure, it can be stressful as they leave the security of spending all day with family or loved ones.
As a preschool or early childhood education center, your job is to make the new school year as comfortable as possible and ease this transition for little ones. To do so, educating parents on how to navigate the change can be helpful.
The better your back-to-school communication is, the more it will put parents at ease about the transition. Here’s what you should encourage parents to do in the coming weeks before the start of school.
Preparing Parents and Students for Back-to-school Season
This time of year, most parents are so focused on back-to-school shopping and planning out their new schedules that they forget the nuances of the emotions and changes that come with a child heading off to school. To guide parents in this important life transition, share these tips for preparing young children to attend school.
- Recognize the Parent’s Feelings
In this season’s hustle, parents might not take the time to notice how they feel about everything. But children will pick up on parents’ emotions, which will change how they view school. To avoid children getting anxious because parents are anxious, encourage parents to recognize their feelings and work through them. Ignoring change or concern will only lead to bigger feelings for the parent and the student.
- Recognize the Child’s Feelings
Once a parent has taken the time to review their feelings about the new school year, they can check in on their child. Does it seem like the child is worried about the transition? What little things are the child sharing that might clue the parent in on their emotions? Perhaps they blurt out randomly, “I don’t want to go to school,” even when you aren’t discussing school. This could signify that it’s weighing heavy on the child’s mind.
The more the parent can recognize a child’s feelings, the easier it will be to share that information with the teacher once they arrive. If the child is shy, encourage parents to share that information so teachers can give the child added time to warm up and acclimate.
- Share What to Expect
Prepare parents for what a typical day at your center looks like. Share details about programs and the teachers. Encourage parents to share these details with their children. Encourage parents to regularly discuss the teacher’s name so that the child feels familiar with them. Host an open house to allow children and parents to see the space in the days leading up to the start of the new school year. This will ease anxiety about the unknown.
Remind parents that adjusting children to their new schedules is a good idea. This includes adjusting bedtimes and starting morning rituals so a child can get used to them and know what to expect.
- Don’t Think of it as the First Day, but a First Week
On the first day, jitters can overtake students. Your school can acknowledge those feelings by viewing the entire first week as an adjustment period. Give children longer outdoor or gross motor skills time. Allow plenty of extra time for activities that you might see as routine, but for the students are entirely new.
Give parents the option to ease children slowly with one hour the first day, then a half day, then a mid-afternoon release, and finally a full regular day for day four. Day five can then start to feel more routine but at a slower pace for the child.
- Have Parents Explain that They Will Be Back and When
By sharing the daily schedule with parents, you can help parents set expectations with their children for when they’ll return. Parents can talk through what a child will expect, such as morning fun, lunchtime, rest time, art, music, and then mommy or daddy return to pick up the child. This helps the child understand when to expect their parents and can help them trust that their parents will return.
- Allow Children to Bring a Comfort Item
A little piece of home will help children ease into their new routines. Those comforts from home can go a long way, whether it’s a blanket or a favorite stuffed animal. As the school year progresses, you might have strict rules for comfort items only coming out of the cubby at rest time. But in the first week, you can allow children to bring them out more often.
- Keep Communication Lines Open
A childcare app can be a tremendous asset in making communication seamless and easy. The clearer your communication is with parents, the more they will be at ease, and the more likely the child will be at ease. Giving parents a simple way to stay in touch throughout the day will help them share important details or check in to see how their child is doing in those early days.
- Encourage Parents to Say Goodbye
Separation from young children can be very challenging. But if parents sneak out while a child is playing with a toy or meeting new friends, that can lead to feelings of abandonment. Start a routine from the first day of school where children know what to expect. While it might be challenging at first, they will learn the routine and settle into it with time.
- Make a List of Items Parents Should Bring on Day One
Send out a list of items the child will need for their first day of school. But do it with a week or so for the parents to prepare. This will help ease the hustle in the morning to put children and parents at ease. And if possible, allow parents to drop off school supplies during orientation to reduce how much they have to remember on the first day of school.
- Organize Information in Ease-to-Find Places
You’ll likely send various messages to parents during the first day of school. They will struggle to remember what information was in an email, what they heard at orientation, and what they read in the handbook. Put all the information they need in the same place with childcare software. Parents can access it from an internet browser or their childcare mobile app. This helps them feel organized and ready for the year ahead.
iCare Software is an outstanding system designed to meet the needs of busy administrators and parents who want open lines of communication with their child’s teachers. Schedule a demo now to see how it can help you prepare for the back-to-school season.