The first day of school can be a nerve-wracking experience for both child and parent. It can be overwhelming for some children to enter an entirely new environment where they will now have to spend their time every day, while parents often feel a sense of loss about losing time with their child. It can also be scary to hand your child over to someone else to take care of, even if they are a licensed educator. Luckily, there are a few things you can do beforehand to try and make the transition as easy as possible. Some children love starting school, and you can help encourage your child to feel a sense of excitement as well.
Give them a chance to settle in
It is usually a good idea to enrol your child in some form of pre-school education, to help them get used to being around other children and adjusting to routines. Gowrie NSW provides diverse early childhood education and care for children aged 4 months to 6 years.
Some preschools run a school transition program, but if your child’s preschool doesn’t do this, or they’re not in preschool, it’s important to take them to the school grounds yourself. This will help to get your child familiar with the environment while they feel safe and secure with you, rather than throwing them in at the deep end on their first day.
You should show them where the toilets are, where they will be having their recess and lunch and where the drinking fountains are. If you can, you should also arrange for your child to meet with their teacher. Make sure your child knows how they will be getting home each day, where they’ll be getting picked up from and at what time. If your child will be going to after school care, you should explore these facilities as well.
Maintain a positive attitude
One of the most important things you can do to help prepare your child for school is to speak about it positively and enthusiastically. If you sound negative when you talk about your child’s education, they will most likely respond by feeling anxious and unhappy about it themselves.
Talk with your child as much as possible to help them understand what school will be like, and explain some of the basic rules to them – like asking the teacher before you go to the bathroom. Explain to your child that the teacher must know where they are at all times, in order to make sure they’re safe.
Help them adjust to the daily routine
It’s also a good idea to try to put into place some good routines prior to the first day, like going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. You may also want to practise the routine of getting ready for school in the morning, by getting your child out of bed and helping them get dressed into their uniform. This is also a good opportunity to make sure that everything fits properly.
You should also encourage your child to wear their school shoes for a few hours a day the week before starting, to make sure they’re comfortable and prevent them from getting blisters on the first day.
Set them up for success
Preparation is the key to success for any important venture, and starting your child at school is no different. Before the chaos of the first week, you’ll want to make sure you have everything ready to go. This includes:
- Getting them a backpack that can fit all the items they’ll need
- Buying a lunchbox that they like and want to use
- Putting stationery together in a pencil case for them
You will also need to check whether the school your child is attending requires them to have any extra equipment or resources – like a hat, a library bag or some art equipment.
Have a treat waiting for them
It can be a good idea to have a snack prepared for your child when they finish school for the first few days, to give them a treat to look forward to and provide the opportunity for them to talk to you if they need to. Ask them a few simple questions, but understand that they might be drained of energy. Monitor your child’s energy levels over the first few weeks to gauge whether or not they are ready for after school activities like play dates or hobbies.
Get them involved
You may also like to involve your child in the process of preparing their snacks, so that they’re happy with what they’re getting and they appreciate the effort involved. You could take your child shopping with you, ask them what they’d like and show them how to prepare healthy snacks like fruits and vegetables.
Teach them to take care of their belongings
Make sure that you put your child’s name on everything that they take with them, and teach them how to look after their things. You can also use this as an exercise for them to practise recognising and writing their own first name, which is one of the first things they’ll need to do when they start school.