A Parent's Guide to the First Day of First Grade

With summer coming to an end, many upcoming first graders may soon face a bout of first-day-of-school jitters. How well they cope with that anxiety may be more important than parents might think.

The most anxious children in first grade are almost eight times more likely to be in the lowest quarter of reading achievement by spring, according to a study published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. Researchers also found they were 2.5 times more likely to be in the lower quarter of math achievement.

How do you cope as a parent with an anxious soon-to-be first grader? Here are a few ideas to consider.

Schedule a time to visit the school early with your child. Take photos on your smartphone or tablet with your child in the classroom, lunchroom and other facilities to help them become familiar with the environment and reduce the stress that comes with the first day.

If possible, talk with their teacher during the summer about the curriculum, and then do some basic lessons with your child before the first day of school. Tablets are another great learning tool and provide a host of education-orientated games that can help reinforce what they are learning. Education.com offers a recommend list of such apps for first graders.

Proper rest and nutrition are essential for your child to be able to focus on lessons. Many mobile apps can teach both kids and adults the value of healthy eating. One option is the Smash Your Food app for iOS devices. Winner of Michelle Obama’s Healthy Apps for Kids award, the app includes a game that allows kids to smash food virtually while learning about its nutritional value.

The beginning of school likely also means an increase in afterschool extracurricular activities. To manage a busier schedule there are many apps to help, the My Kid Planner app can keep track of upcoming events and send reminders of key assignments.

Research and being prepared are key to a good start to the year. Check out various parenting blogs to see what may have worked for other parents.