The Back-to-School Guide For First-Timers

It's hard to start this post because of all the emotions I feel thinking back to the first day of school last year. Granted, it was Pre-K, but it was still the first day of school. It was hard. Emotional. Eye-opening. Most of all, it was a huge milestone in my child's life.

Below are some of my very best tips for back to school. Or in my usual style, lessons learned the hard way when I dropped my kid off at school for the first time.

Picture it: Parents everywhere, children everywhere, kids crying, parents crying, photo after photo being taken in front of the school. Teachers shoving stacks of papers in your hand with lists, rules, expectations and snack rotation schedules, all while your child is clinging to you for dear life, begging you not to leave him in this madhouse.

1. It's a whole new world- If you did the daycare thing or Mother's-day-out at the church, don't expect anything to be the same when it comes to actual school. I definitely didn't expect Pre-K to be so formal. Well, it is. You show up on time, you follow the rules, you read the lists, and every single scrap of paper sent home. Or, risk sending your child to school in a red outfit on green outfit day, or worse, on a dress-up day! TIP: Dedicate a calendar in your house to strictly school stuff.

2.  Your child isn't the only one crying on the first day of school. The first day of school was rough for both Ollie and I. Thankfully, we were not the only ones having a rough go of it. At times I couldn't tell who was being more brave, the parents or the child. School is a huge step, yes, but it's also a huge reminder that our babies are growing up.

3. It's OK to go nuts with the photos, everyone else is. It was beyond cute watching the moms and dads taking photos in front of the school. Whole families showed up for this momentous day.  Grandparents, siblings, the dog... all are welcome. The only rule is, get your photo and move along, four hundred parents are waiting.

4. Drop-off is chaotic. To say the least. I get it. It's 8:30am, parents are trying to get their child in school and be at work by 9. But, the fact that drop-off is a knockdown free for all to get signed into class and be back in the car in 4.3 seconds flat, is a little crazy. However, I've learned, that's just how it is. Your best bet is to stay clear of these parents and not take it personally. Give yourself plenty of time the first week for navigating parking and drop-off.

5.  Make hand washing a household rule. Let's just say, it's ALWAYS cold and flu season when school is in session. Schools are a germ paradise full of dirty hands, sneezes, coughs and miserable sick children whose parents had to get to a meeting. Combat germs by teaching your child the importance of handwashing throughout the day, and insist on handwashing the second your child(ren) get home from school.

Bonus Tip: BE BRAVE! It's hard to watch our babies grow up. School is a huge step. For both of you. Once you make it to the classroom, give your hugs and kisses of encouragement, then use your best brave face to let your child know it's going to be OK, then get out of there! The longer you linger, the harder it will be for your child to let you go. There's something about you lingering that gives your child the impression you can really stay the whole time if you want. Kiss and go... to your car to join the rest of the parents balling their eyes out in the parking lot.


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April is an award-winning writer and blogger. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit