I will admit that I still choke up and get teary eyed every fall when I first see a school bus rolling along. It is an emotional time for me. It is also an emotional time for parents, teachers, grandparents, and the students themselves. Some of their emotion involves apprehension of the unknown. Some of the emotion is simply a feeling of the importance of what is happening. At a time like this, we all begin to question our ability to meet the new challenge and wonder how our past actions will affect the future.
Parents watch that bus rumble down the road and pray that their child will be up to meeting the expectations of society. Have we done what we should have done to prepare our child? How is he/she feeling? Will my child make friends? What kind of teacher will my child have? Will the teacher understand him/her and be patient? I hope the other kids will be nice to my child. I hope my child makes the right friends.
Students are wondering if they look ok and if the other kids will like them. They wonder if the teacher will be nice. Some wonder if they remember all they were supposed to learn from before. They worry that maybe they have forgotten some of the rules and some item they were supposed to bring with them. Some will dig in their backpacks to check what is there.
Teachers are busy with last minute readiness for the students to arrive. Many have butterflies in the stomach and are feeling nervous. What kind of class will I have? Will the students be well-behaved, or rude? Do I have all of my lessons prepared, or have I forgotten something? How does the room look? Will the students feel good when they walk into the room? Will my principal back me up if I have to discipline a student? Will the parents help their children succeed? Will I get along with the parents? Can I really handle this job and my home as well?
Grandparents are wondering if their grandchildren will succeed in school. What can I do to help my grandchildren? They are feeling so helpless. They are probably thinking of all the strengths and weaknesses of the grandchild and wondering if the child can overcome the weaknesses and capitalize on the strengths. Many are saying, “At least I can pray for them!”
With all of the questions and feelings running rampant, there are a few things that can help alleviate apprehensions. Parents and students can visit teachers before that first day. When the child sees the classroom and teacher on the first day of school, that child has a sense of familiarity and is not nearly so afraid. Some teachers send letters to the students before school starts telling them about the upcoming year. Rules of the school, along with consequences for breaking those rules, should be clearly written and made available to families. Parents should go over these rules with the children at home and explain their necessity. Parents can make gestures of support to teachers, letting them know that they expect their children to be disciplined and will back them up at home.
Mom and Dad, before your children walk out the door that first day of school, give them a big hug and kiss. Tell them, “Learn all you can learn. Do your best, and no matter what happens today, I will still love you when you come home!”