7 Things You Can Do at Home to Make the First Day of School Easier

By Holly Christy, Publisher of Macaroni Kid Mt. Airy-Damascus-Urbana and Macaroni Kid Germantown-Clarksburg July 30, 2022

The beginning of the school year is always a jumble of emotions for kids and parents -- especially for those families who have children just starting out in school.

Your young student is likely to feel excited and nervous on the first day of school. We know you do too! (Tip No. 1: Don't cry, mamas! At least until they're safely out of view!)

Here are 7 things you can do at home to help your child (and you!) through those first days of school:

1. Have your little ones practice making friends. 

It can be as simple as "Hi! My name is Hector. What's yours?" It might sound cheesy, but this simple practice can help your little ones feel more comfortable and confident on the first day of school -- traits that attract friends and help others overcome shyness too.

2. Make sure your child can manage alone in the bathroom.

It's tempting to dress your petite pupil in the cutest clothes money can buy -- but don't. Instead, be practical. Kids (and their ever-patient teachers) are better off in clothes they can manage on their own. That means you might have to avoid clothes with buttons and zippers for a while. Instead, leggings are a great alternative to tights, while elastic pants are a great choice in place of traditional fly and button pants. Most children don't want to ask for help in the restroom, and their teacher will be grateful too!

3. Get them excited about the bus.

Have them memorize their bus number. They'll know it in no time once school starts,  but learning their bus number ahead of time can give them a little more confidence on the first day of school. Also show them where the bus will pick them up and drop them off each day -- and where you or another caregiver will be waiting for them with a hug.

4. Practice the morning routine.

Don't wait until the first day of school to teach the morning routine. Instead, start easing your child into it a week or two ahead of time with an earlier wake-up time. Have your young learner get dressed, eat breakfast, brush their teeth and help make a packed lunch. You don't have to do all the steps at once, but starting to get into a routine early can give both of you a sense of how long the morning routine will take -- and help avoid beginning-of-the-year meltdowns. (Looking for some school day breakfast ideas? Check out five easy and nutritious school day breakfast hacks!)

5. Print out a list of what to pack for lunch and post it inside your pantry.

A handy reference sheet will be appreciated early in the day when you haven't had any coffee or the kids' bus comes in five minutes and their lunch still isn't packed. We're here to tell you: those days will happen.

6. Lay out clothes the night before. 

Choosing an outfit the night before school is a great routine to get into. This helps you avoid the last minute wails that "I have noooothing to wear!" and also can go a long way to making sure your kids show up to school in matching socks.

7. Establish a "landing place" for backpacks, lunchboxes, and school papers. 

Whether it's a desk, the dining room table or just a cardboard box in the corner, you'll want a spot for your super scholar's school stuff. Otherwise, you'll end up watching a cascade of papers fall from your kitchen counter, tripping over a backpack left in the middle of the floor, and sniffing out old milk in yesterday's dirty lunchbox. Also, make sure to go through your child's folder or backpack every day. You'll find it takes approximately 1.3 days for all the papers that come home from school to end up a squashed mess inside a backpack.

The first days of school are exciting and scary -- for you and your little angel. By taking some simple steps you can alleviate the stress that comes with starting school on all of you. Good luck! (And remember: No crying until they're out of sight!)