Here are my two favorite success building strategies:
• Visit the school and walk around/through the building.
Locate [or remind them] where commonly used rooms are: the gym, the library, the particular grade level classrooms, the main office, nurses's office, cafeteria, and don't forget the bathrooms! Talk in supportive terms about each room..[This is the main office...the people here will help you if you have to call home, or if you can't find a classroom, or if you need to bring in a note from home, etc. This is the library where people will help you find wonderful books that you can read. etc. ] If it is a school the child has attended before maybe you can use the excuse of them giving you the tour to reind you where things are. Once back home you an talk about things you saw when school comes up, helping them feel familiar with where they will be. [PS: While you are there.... check out the lockers if your child will have one.... some are built when backpacks were much smaller! Maybe even bring the new backpack and check it.]
• Name the worries and find solutions.
If your child is old enough and comfortable enough to verbalize their worries: Write each worry on a post-it note and put it on their bedroom "Worry Wall." Then at least once a day before the start of school talk about one of the worries, plan a solution or discover the answer and write it on the post it. Move the post-it to the "Solution Spot" in their room. If there is no answer and no solution, talk about ideas for resolving it and write those down. [Ex: What if we have to change clothes for gym? Plans might be: -- Ask a friend or neighbor who has finished that grade in that school. Ask the school office person. or Write the question on the first page of their new notebook to be sure to ask someone on the first day of school. etc.] Though this pic is a random one, I use pink sticky notes for worries and then overlap each with a green sticky note with the solution.
KEY NOTE: I deliberately don't cover the pink worry note because it lets me talk about the fact that the worries still may be there, but the goal is whenever a worry thought pops up you put the solution thought next to it in your head.
The start of a new school year probably has been a reason for anxieties and worries even before one-room schools. Talk about your worries when you were young but also talk about how you worked through them, how they worked out. [This is NOT time for stories of being "pantsed" or "lockered"!] Talk about other worries your child has overcome or anxieties they had about events that turned out to be fine, even fun.
Image credits: corbisimages.com,thebabyboomerentrepreneur.com