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Ready young kids for school

A child's first day of school is a momentous occasion, one that parents and children alike will never forget. For parents, the day might stir memories of their own first day of school all those years ago. For youngsters, the excitement of the first day of school might be accompanied by a little anxiety, as kids don't know what to expect.

Anxiety may decrease as kids grow more acclimated to their school and their classmates, but that first day can be difficult for some youngsters. Here are a few steps parents can take to prepare their children for school.

* Discuss the schedule with your child. Having a schedule can be a difficult adjustment for youngsters, especially those who have never attended preschool or another structured program. To help kids handle this adjustment, discuss the schedule with your children ahead of time, explaining when school begins and ends each day and how activities are likely to be scheduled during the school day. In the weeks leading up to the first day of school, help kids get in the swing of things by waking them up earlier and scheduling some activities so kids can get used to a more structured environment.

* Visit the school. The school itself might also be a cause for anxiety. Kids who have never been inside of a school might benefit from a visit to the school in advance of their first day. Arrange a tour with the local school district so kids can see the bright classrooms and the playgrounds, which should settle any fears they might have about leaving the comforts of home for the classroom.

* Let kids know their classmates will likely be nervous as well. For youngsters who seem especially nervous about their first day of school, parents can point out that other kids are likely just as nervous. Parents can even share stories of their own anxiety with regard to school and explain to kids how the nervousness was quickly calmed.

* Remind kids you're just a phone call away. Going to school and becoming independent is an important step for kids, but children might be reassured if their parents remind them Mom and Dad are just a phone call away. Soon enough, kids will adapt to the classroom and won't need that reassurance, but those initial nerves might be calmed if kids are reminded that their parents are still nearby.

* Consider carpooling with another family. One thing that's certain to calm a youngster's first-day-of-school jitters is the presence of a fellow friend or neighbor who is also going to school for the first time. Consider carpooling with another family so children forget about their anxiety and spend their school day mornings talking or playing with a friend. While this might not be feasible on the very first day of school when parents want to cherish the occasion by dropping their kids off themselves and watching them walk into school, it can help going forward.