Why The First Day Matters

It’s the first day of school.  Is your child ready to go at 7:30 am, or are they still in bed, pleading a headache?

After enduring a challenging period of uncertainty and adapting to new norms during Covid, the first day of school in a post-pandemic era marks an important milestone in a student’s journey.  It is more critical than ever for our students to make every effort to be present.

Here’s why students, especially those with individualized educational needs, shouldn’t miss their first day…

Transition, Routines, Sensory Integration, and Setting the Tone:

For autistic children and children with other learning disabilities, routine and predictability are essential. The first day of school marks a significant transition from a familiar environment (such as home or preschool) to a new and structured setting, complete with new stimuli, such as noises, smells, and crowds. Establishing a positive routine can assist with adapting to the new environment, help reduce anxiety, set expectations, learn and utilize new coping strategies, and provide a sense of stability.

Introduction and Orientation:

The first day of school often includes introductions, orientation sessions, and important information about the upcoming academic year. These sessions help your child become familiar with their teachers, classmates, school policies, schedules, and expectations. Missing this crucial information can make it challenging to catch up later.

Establishing Connections and Socialization:

The first day of school is a chance for children to meet new classmates, form early bonds, make friends, and develop social skills. It’s an important step towards fostering social inclusion and building relationships with peers. This is particularly true for students with social challenges and anxiety. It is bonding to have the same “first day” as all the other students and helps children not feel alone or unique in their fears.

Attending School is a Collaboration Between the School and Parents:

When your child attends the first day, it initiates a very crucial partnership between you and the school.  Not only does it establish (or reestablish!) open lines of communication to share important information about the child’s strengths, challenges, and support strategies, but it shows teachers you are invested in your child’s education.  Most importantly, attending the first day shows your child that because you, the parent, prioritize education, so should they.

Remember, attending the first day of school sets the foundation for a successful year, both academically and socially. It is a chance for your child to familiarize themselves with their new environment, build relationships, and learn important information.  And remember, getting ready for the first day requires your help as parents, so make your child’s education a priority by helping ensure they are present on the first day!