The beginning of a new school year is filled with new friends, brand new school supplies and fun experiences. But, going back to school can be nerve-wracking and even more intimidating for first-timers. Many parents and children alike experience back-to-school anxiety.

At The Maria Montessori School, Maria Schuermann Cole, our founder, and headmistress builds three days into the school calendar each year to ensure that first-time students are comfortable with the transition. Here are some of her tips on how to start the school year off on the right foot:

Introduce your child to the classroom before the first day of school.

Going to school for the first time is very intimidating for both parents and children, so make sure that your child’s first day isn’t the first time he or she is in the school. Three days prior to the first official day at Maria Montessori School, parents of first-time students in primary school can come for an hour to show their children what school is all about. This helps familiarize children with a school routine and leave them feeling less stressed when the first day of school comes around. Not every school has these days built into the schedule, but many have orientation or “Meet the Teacher” days that allow your child to acclimate to the classroom before the first day.

Let your child adapt to the new surroundings.

When visiting a school for the first time, it’s important to allow children to explore the classroom on their own. This helps reduce anxiety caused from being left on the true first day of school. Parents may also feel better knowing that their children will be happy once they have seen them adapt to their new surroundings.

Reward your child for brave behavior.

Starting school can be overwhelming and stressful, but rewarding children for their brave behavior can instill confidence in them. Some ideas are to make a special meal to celebrate the first day of school or take them to get a little treat after the first few days of school to reward their success. Letting your children know that you are proud of their accomplishments gives them the self-assurance to enjoy the rest of the school year. You can also use this time with your child to listen to how his or her first week went.

Everyone has a little back-to-school anxiety, but learning how to cope and deal with this anxiety is the key. Turning your child’s anxiety and stress into excitement can start the year off right and set a great foundation for a love of education! Let your child soar into this school year anxiety- and stress-free!

(Watch Maria Schuermann Cole discuss these tips on News Channel 3)