First Day of School Parenting Advice

The first day of school can be nerve-racking for children, and also for parents. We asked our readers to share their First Day of School tips for moms and dads sending a child off to school for the first time.

“Each day when they come home, ask them what made them feel happy, if anything made them feel sad, & how they helped somebody (a classmate or teacher) else that day. This encourages emotional awareness and develops a sense of achievement. In our family, our kids go to school to learn how to function in a group, respect others, and be a good friend. The rest is just a bonus.” –Kate Wiser


“ What helped my kids cope was not making a huge deal about their first day. If they had fears I comforted them, but I didn’t talk about the first day too much and acted like it was a completely normal day coming up.” –Rachel Hampson


“You’ll want to keep everything- but you can’t. Pick your favorites and keep just a few. Also, make sure to talk to your child’s teacher at open house and offer to help out either in class or cutting things at home for them or picking up extra supplies.” –Teri Teesdale


“I send my daughter with little notes with her snack. She loves the words of encouragement and looks forward each day to reading them. It’s been good for her reading skills and helps her know that I am there for even if I’m not with her.” –Kristi Stefanini Peshke


“Set up some traditions and routines now, so you don’t regret not doing them later.

  1. You can’t keep every cool artwork that comes home. Take a photo of each one that you find to be awesome/special. Make a folder for each grade to keep just a handful in. Display all the artwork by putting the pictures in a digital frame. The child will love seeing their work being displayed, and there’s less clutter.
  2. Set up an email account for your child. Each month, send him an email with attachments of any artwork you snapped a picture of, a handful of your favorite pics on your phone, and any neat updates about his life. Give him the password when he’s older. It’s a childhood treasure inbox!
  3. Do not let this first teacher be a stranger. You’re partners in his well being and education. Via email or in person, stay in touch. Thank her for specific ways she has helped him. Bring her favorite drink and cookies. Ask if there’s things you can be doing for her at home (if you don’t have time to volunteer at school) like cutting out shapes, sorting papers, making charts…
  4. Start the “What’s the best thing/worst thing to happen to you today” game at dinner. Makes the kids feel important and lets you know what’s happening.
  5. Make the first day special. We had a tradition of loaded pancakes (lots of fun toppings) and praying together before they left. We did this every year
  6. If you can take off work, go celebrate with a friend (breakfast, a coffee, something!) Instead of crying. I know it’s hard but you’re amazing mama, so choose the cool joy of it! Don’t linger at school for sure, that makes it hard on everyone.
  7. Start a prayer journal together for you and each child. This was huge for us with our bigger kids recently, but oh how I regret not starting it when they were little. Even kindergartners can draw/color/write and interpret to mom what they wrote. For bigger ones, they write 1-3 things they’d like you to pray about and you write 1-3 things back each day. It may not always be personal stuff, but it’ll keep you closer. It’s really special.” -Heather Marie Nichols


“When dropping off your child at school give them a hug & kiss and leave. It makes it harder on the child if you linger around. The teachers will console the child if they are upset. It makes it harder on the child if the parent stays. I am a daycare teacher so I know this first hand, I also sent my son to preschool last year so I know how it feels as the parent. It’s hard but he got used to it quickly and loves school.” -Shana Stacey


“Read them the picture book, ‘The Kissing Hand’ and remind them you will be waiting to pick them up! Show them their backpacks and where you put everything so they can find it once they are at school (especially their lunchbox and snack). Make sure they know they can ask the teacher anything. I told my boys that their teacher was their “mom” while they were at school! Promise them a sweet treat or something to look forward to after the first day!” -Audra Dix Thomas


“Do not be emotional and cry in front of your child! This will only make things worse. Hug, kiss your child and send them on their way. Each day will get easier. Some days may be bad but most will be good. After school, talk to them about what they learned, what they did, who their friends are, etc.” -Dawn Brooks


“Just went through this last year and this year my sons are going to a new school. So trust me when I say I believe the best advice I can give especially if your child is shy, is to ask the teacher if you can stay just that day so your child will feel at ease and get to know their teacher this will make an easy communication line for both teacher & parent.” – Ashley Richardson


“Drop them off and leave quickly! Don’t make a huge deal of it. Also, back off and let the teacher do their thing. They are working hard to establish routines those first couple of weeks and overbearing parents get in the way.” –Dana Coffey McReynolds


“Meet the teacher to discuss what they think will help, and establish communication as early as possible. You and the teacher need to be a team, and they need to know you want that- and will be working WITH them to help you’r child have an amazing year.” –Sarah Bryant


“Be happy, be positive, and enthusiastic!! This is such a big milestone, so be understanding and patient as they adjust to this exciting transition and new journey.” –Cindy Jones


“Leave a fun and encouraging note from everyone in the family with their lunch or in their backpack! This will bring a smile to their face and remind them everyone is excited for them starting school!” Sarah Holt


“Send a picture of your family from vacation or a birthday party. If your child gets sad, scared, or starts missing you, he/she can look at the picture and have happy thoughts.” –Sharon Sandusky Thomas


“Be excited and really upbeat towards them. They will pick up on your energy and be happy and excited too. Kiss and hug them goodbye and tell them you can wait to hear about all the fun they had today!” –Renee Graham


“Listen. When they come home from kindergarten and telling you their whole entire day…listen. You want to set that now so that they will continue conversations with you as they get older.” –Tami Wilson


“Make sure they are able to open all their items in their lunch box or understand the process of going through the lunch line. Lunchtime can be a huge source of stress for a little one!” –Carrie Oser


“Be excited and really upbeat towards them. They will pick up on your energy and be happy and excited too. Kiss and hug them goodbye and tell them you can wait to hear about all the fun they had today!” –Renee Graham


“Be brace. Show strength and encouragement for your children. Cry and miss them after their in school and your home. It will be ok.” –Robert Phillips


“It’s the beginning of so many new memories and adventures! Smile! Deep breaths and know at that the end of the day your ‘baby’ will be back home.” –Erica Gevedon


“Give them lots of love and encouragement, Kentucky has amazing teachers that love and take care of our kids.” –Jamison Ornella Rogers


“Go to the Open House. Find out the best way to reach the teacher. Make sure you have everyone’s contact info and drivers license numbers for those that will have permission to pick up your child from school. Realize that it will be easier each day for you. Don’t cry in front of them. And don’t have hurt feelings if your child acts like they are more than fine when you drop them off.” –Lori Rose Poe


“A day off work, a bottle of wine, and waterproof mascara.” –Diane Gibson


“It gets easier for both of you.” –April Pennington


“Be prepared. Don’t be late. You don’t want to be rushed. Arrive earlier than you normally plan to for drop off. Take some cute photos and a nice basket of extra classroom supplies for the teacher is always a GREAT idea!” –Emily Darden Kerr


“I prepared my daughter by giving her an idea of her schedule for the day…drop off, circle
Time, lunch, recess, go home! I also gave her a picture of our family to keep in her backpack incase she felt scared and just wanted to see our faces. On drop off day we hugged and kissed her and assured her we’d be back to pick her up at the end of the day, then we left! She still cried as we left, but her teacher held her hand as they walked to her class and as soon as she got there she stopped crying and started enjoying her day. Good luck!” –Jaime K. Greenleaf


“Watch and be proud, don’t follow and critique.” –Laura Segari John