I still remember the jitters I got just walking up to the school door to see which teacher I would have and which kids would be in my class Ė and that was usually a couple of weeks before the first day.
Fortunately, my nervousness usually started to subside, at least somewhat, during the first week of classes. By then, the teacher had laid out the class rules, assigned seats, explained the daily and weekly schedules, and showed us our new books.
Each day got easier as I walked into class knowing, more or less, what to expect. Thatís true of most kids. They like to know what is coming next.
Adults often have much the same need. Just think of your most recent job interview, first day at work, or new medical procedure.
Generally, the more we know what to expect, the less anxiety we experience.
By answering as many questions for our children as possible, we can help to put them more at ease with the unfamiliar. We need to explain things like how they will get to school and get home afterward, who will meet them and where, and whatever else may cause concern.
Also, putting a morning routine in place a week or two before school starts will leave fewer adjustments to make once school gets under way.
Itís not only at school that kids like to understand the rules and the schedule. Do your kids know what to expect at home? Do you have regular daily and weekly routines? Do you regularly let kids know what is going on?
Over the summer, I realized just how used to knowing the dayís plan my children have become. The day after our return from vacation, my youngest asked, ďSo, what are we doing today?Ē I answered, ďIím not sure. Iím just going to work on shifting out of vacation mode and figure out what I need to work on next.Ē
My son showed his dissatisfaction with my answer by repeating his question multiple times over the next hour. After I thought about it, I realized he usually asks this question first thing in the morning. Because Iím usually up well before our kids, I can usually rattle off the list of things we need to get done and in what order I plan to do them. Our son had come to rely on this routine to know what to expect even during the less structured days of summer.
During the school break, I have started using another strategy to get our kidsí mornings under way smoothly. While Iím eating breakfast, I write a list to remind them of their daily routine and then add the chores they need to complete before pursuing their own interests or activities. Because they usually wake up while Iím finishing my workout, the list sets them on the right course independently.
The lists have worked so well that I plan to continue using them as school gets under way.
Sometime on Sunday, I try to give the kids a layout for the week, especially if we have an appointment or something out of the ordinary coming up.
We canít always know what is around the corner or explain everything to our children. However, the more we can help them prepare, the more smoothly things are likely to go. The unexpected is best saved for swirling rapids.
Published: August 22, 2011