MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - That first day of school is just around the corner and with it comes the anxiety of a new year.
For parents and children, this is a very exciting time. New places, new people but that can also bring on some anxiety for everyone involved.
"Preparing children for their first day of school is incredibly important and should never be taken lightly," said E. Douglas Varney, Commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. "Well in advance of that first day, parents should plan out a schedule to ready their new student for the first day and beyond."
There are many firsts in starting school, including:
- Being away from home
- Riding on the bus
- Meeting other children
- How to dress
- Interacting with the teacher
- Following rules
Commissioner Varney said something as little as not having the right supplies can completely change a child's first day experience.
Many different student support specialists highly recommend that parents develop a plan to acclimate to that first day of school. The earlier that plan is put in place, the better.
"Children in many ways are a lot like adults when it comes to starting a new routine. The first day of school, much like starting a new job, is going to increase levels of apprehension and anxiety. A great remedy for this is talking about it in advance," Commissioner Varney said. "Some youngsters will withdraw, while others may act up and become defiant. In either case, your best defense is to prepare and guide your child and address every concern they have along the way."
Many school systems in Tennessee now offer helpful information online, school supply lists, guidelines on what to wear, bus routes and lunch menus, to give families the best chance at having a very calm first day of school.
"That first day of school is a milestone in a child's life and development, so you want it to be a memory that you all can cherish," said Commissioner Varney. "Get the whole family involved, parents, siblings, and extended relatives. Children need a strong support system to encourage them and affirm their accomplishments from an early age. Children need to be ready socially and emotionally to achieve academic success."