The first day of school is time for great excitement and frequently great anxiety. The American Academy of Pediatrics website, healthychildren.org, has developed a checklist to help prepare for the first day of school.
• Is your child registered? (If he attended the same school last year he is registered.)
• When is the first day of school?
• What time does school start?
• How is your child going to get to school? If he is biking does he know the school rules for bicycles? If he is walking for the first time, with whom will he walk? Have you reviewed safety precautions with him, regarding traffic and strangers?
• Does your child know the name of his teacher?
• What will his daily schedule be like?
• Will he need to bring a snack? What kinds of snacks are allowed and encouraged? Does he need to take something to drink, or can he buy something? Will water be available?
• What time is lunch? Can your child buy it at school? How much does it cost?
• What clothes will your child need to wear? Are there restrictions on what can be worn? Will he need a different set of clothes for physical education or art classes?
• Does your child need to take pencils, paper, notebook and other supplies? (Often the teacher will announce these requirements the first day.) Does your child need something in which to carry his books and supplies back and forth to school? Will he have a place besides his desk to keep his things at school?
• Have you filled out all health forms or emergency contact forms that have been sent home?
• Have any new health problems developed in your child over the summer that will affect his school day? Does the school nurse know about any health problems?
• If your child needs to take medicine at school on the first day, have arrangements been made for this?
• Does your child know where he is going after school? Home/baby sitter? Does he know how he will get there? If you will not be there when he arrives, does he know who will be responsible for him, what the rules are and how to get help in an emergency?
• Does your child have your work telephone numbers in his backpack?
Hopefully, once the checklist is completed everything will go smoothly and with much less anxiety. Being prepared and knowing what to expect will make the first day much more fun.
Sally Robinson is a clinical professor of pediatrics at UTMB Children’s Hospital. This column isn’t intended to replace the advice of your child’s physician.