The Defining Week: Why the First Week of School Matters

Aug 1, 2017 | Family, Health & Happiness, The ONE Thing | 0 comments

Some of us may be counting down the days until it occurs. Others may be craving more time. But whichever way you look at it, back to school time is rapidly approaching. It’s important to use these last few days and weeks before the new school year starts to explain to the kids in your life why the first week of school is vital for ensuring the whole school year is a success. It’s the ONE Thing we can do to set them up most securely for a great school year ahead.

First Impressions Mean Everything

Like any job interview, first impressions go a long way toward influencing what others think about us. And it doesn’t take long for someone to form an impression. In fact, researchers have found that it only takes a tenth of a single second for first impressions to form.

Think about it, it takes someone about as long to form an opinion of you as it does for them to blink an eye. The same holds true for your children in a school setting.  When the child in your life walks through their classroom door, his or her teacher and classmates will have an immediate idea about what they think your child will be like during the school year. Help the children in your life do what it takes to make a favorable lasting impression to secure their best year yet.

You can help your child set a positive tone for the school year with simple behavior tricks. The first time they walk into a classroom, remind them to stand tall, smile and make eye contact with their peers and teacher. It may seem like you’re reminding them of simple manners (and what child doesn’t need a refresher on these once and awhile), but these nonverbal behaviors go a long way to making others comfortable in their presence.

You can also help your child by making sure that they arrive on time or early to school. Similar to a job interview, punctuality is key to making a good first impression. Nothing sways the opinion of a teacher on the first day of school like having to delay a classroom of eager children from getting started because one child has yet to enter through the door.

Encourage your child to set good habits for timeliness on those first days of school by picking out clothes and packing bags the night before to avoid any pre-bell problems. Finally, remind them to mind their P’s and Q’s. This means that they should say “please” and “thank you,” be friendly to the other kids, and keep the playground craziness outside where it belongs. By the time the first week of school is coming to a close, your child’s reputation will be well on the way to being cemented as a “good one” in his or her teacher’s eyes.

Establish a Halo Effect

When we make a positive first impression, it doesn’t take long for its effects to be felt elsewhere.  The phenomenon of one good thing impacting surrounding areas is called the halo effect, and it explains why good outcomes seem to come in bunches.

Making a good first impression can ultimately even impact the report cards our children bring home. As the Encyclopedia of Educational Psychology describes what can happen in a school setting “a teacher who sees a well-behaved student might tend to assume this student also is bright, diligent, and engaged before that teacher has objectively evaluated the student’s capacity in these areas.”

This halo effect can have long-term effects on future opportunities. As the saying goes, “your reputation precedes you.” The way your child starts out his or her school year can set the tone for what people expect of them down the road. Where they fall on the behavior spectrum, from conscientious to troublemaker or somewhere in between will travel with them through their school career. By starting the year off strong, they guarantee themselves that they are starting out with making the best impression possible to follow them into their other interactions, activities, and opportunities.

How do you ensure your children start off the school year with their best foot forward? Share your advice on our Facebook page!