Photo: Mladen Zivkovic (Shutterstock)
An approaching school year often means major changes to a family’s schedule, including the renewed early morning rush to simply get out the door. For many kids, the first day of school isn’t just exciting—it’s also overwhelming. Beyond getting up and getting ready, they’ve got to remember to pack everything they need for the first day back, navigate the bus stop or drop-off line, find their classroom, and meet their teachers and classmates.
It can all feel especially daunting if it’s a kid’s first time going to school or if they are entering a new one. And it’s doubly true if you have a child who is particularly rigid or inflexible or struggles with transitions. For these kids, some early preparation and a few “practice runs” before the big day can make all the difference.
How to do a first-day-of-school “practice run”
A practice run can help cut down on that confused first-day morning rush, when your kid can’t decide what to wear or remember where their backpack is, and they’re nervous about riding the bus for the very first time or making friends—and you are just trying to get them out the door, with lunch in hand, so you can get to work on time.
Here are some things you can do in advance to help them adjust before the big day:
- Practice walking to the bus stop, or do a few dry runs on walking or driving to school so they are familiar with the route.
- Arrange for them to tour their new school and see their classroom if they haven’t already.
- Set up play dates, if possible, with other kids you know will be in their class.
- Help them gather and pack their school supplies and place their backpack in an obvious spot, such as near the front door.
- Help them practice making their lunch (if that will be their responsibility).
- Pick out a first-day-of school outfit (or a week’s worth of outfits!) a day or two early so there’s less scrambling those first mornings.
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You should also check the school’s website or social media accounts for any special first-day notes or procedures they may have, especially as it relates to drop-off and pick-up so there are no last-minute surprises.
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