There are a number of things that can lessen or increase anxiety as a child gets ready to go to school for the first time. The first that comes to mind is an overall atmosphere of stress in daily family life. This may result in an increased level of anxiety and distraction. Is there consistency in family routines? Do kids know what to expect? When kids enter into an evening routine and get ready for bed, does the noise and activity level decrease? Are kids viewing programs on TV that are over-stimulating to the senses or too violent? Would it be better to read a book or engage in other quiet activities? Are prayers at bedtime offered in a peaceful and calm environment or are they rushed just to fulfill the rule? All of these things can increase or decrease the stress and anxiety level of a child and indirectly impact his or her ability to adjust to being away from home and going to school for the first time.
Secondly, how much does a child’s life center around his or her parent? There might be too much of a dependency on one or both. Can you share your child with other adults in church or among family and friends that you trust? Do you have a baby sitter that your trust to leave your child or children with so you and can get a deserved break? I think it is great to see babies or young toddlers passed on from parent to other adults in church with little disruption. That increases a sense of stability in a child. The more people children know that they can trust, the more at ease they will be with handling other new relationships such as a first time school setting.
Finally, as the time for school draws closer, make a point of visiting the school with your child and to see what classroom they will be in. They need to meet their teacher as well. I think it is common for public schools to have open houses for first time attendees where this happens. So, what I am saying may be nothing new to most of you. But if it is, then call the school to see what can be arranged.
Make a point of saying a prayer for school that can be found in most prayer books. Say them on the way to school if they can’t be done at home. For the first few days of school, consider giving something small to your child that is yours to remind him or her of you. It can be a special pen, a small photo, or a small piece of cloth. It can be something special to tie you together in a symbolic way. This can be a reminder that your child will see you soon and serve as something to reduce anxiety or worry.
Please share any suggestions you have on this matter that may be of help to better understand this topic and how to handle it.
Have a blessed Nativity, and Happy New Year. God bless you. Christ is born!
With love, the unworthy +Paul