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How to Handle a Tough First Day of School

On her first day of preschool, my daughter woke up ready to go! She was joining the Owl class, and so she put on an owl shirt, helped me pack her lunch, and grabbed her blankie for nap time.

The day didn’t go as planned.

About 30 minutes after drop-off, I got a call saying she had been accidentally placed in the wrong class, so they were taking her over to the Bear class instead.

Two hours after that, I got a call asking if she had lunch. Apparently, it got lost in the shuffle of moving rooms. And when I picked her up, she wordlessly handed me her wet blanket. She had spilled her water on it just before nap time.

In these moments, I try to take a deep breath and check my own emotions first. If she had watched me, say, yell at the principal for the placement error or rush in to meet her with a panicked look on my face, it would have escalated an already tough day. What she needed was my reassuring calm that she was okay and that tomorrow would be a little easier.

Kids bring so many emotions to the first week of school: excitement and fear, wonder and worry. So when something goes wrong — from someone mispronouncing their name to not understanding the directions, from missing home to dropping their lunch on the floor — it can feel overwhelming.

Here are four ways you can help kids navigate heading back to school. 

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