“The biggest impact to both the children and the parents is the separation anxiety,” said Annissa Katzman, president of the Paulding County Council of PTAs.
“For many kids, this is the first time that they are being left in an unfamiliar environment for an extended period of time,” she said.
Brian Otott, associate superintendent of schools in Paulding County, said the district is expecting about 2,200 kindergarten students this year, a slight decrease from last year’s 2,290 first-year students.
Katzman said while most of the time, the resilient youngsters get over the fears of being away from home rather quickly, “parents have all day to lament the new void in their lives,” and the transition can be harder on the parents than the child.
She said the best advice she can give new grade school parents is to relax.
“Your child will be safe, cared for and loved in school,” she said. “At the end of each day, they will come home and be just like they always were, except that they will be more knowledgeable and more engaged. They will be clamoring to tell you about all of the wonderful things they’ve learned and the new people they have met.”
The PTA president said that many county schools give new parents what they call a “BooHoo Pack” to help alleviate the anxiety that often comes with the first day of school.
“This is a little bag of inexpensive goodies that is supplied to each parent as they bring their child into the classroom for the first time,” said Katzman. “The items in the bag correspond to a little poem that is written to comfort the parents on the stressful first day of school.”
To the students, Katzman said not to worry about their new “home.”
“I know that it seems scary going to the big school, but you are going to meet so many kind, new people that you will love, and they will love you, too,” said Katzman. “There’s really no reason to be scared.”