Starting school is an exciting time for children and their families and with a big milestone comes big change! New locations, new routines, new teachers and new friends. While some families sail through the transition to school with excitement and enthusiasm, others experience anxiety and nerves as the school year approaches.
In our experience, children can benefit from being involved in discussions about school and some planning and preparation before the school year starts and in those first weeks.
Before School Starts
Ask your child what they are thinking and feeling when it comes to starting Prep. What are they most excited for? Is there anything they are nervous about? This open dialogue will allow your child to learn more about what the school year will bring while also allowing you as a parent to find out exactly what worries they have. Knowing their concerns early will give you time to work on the nerves before the first day of school.
Encourage your child to ask you questions about school. They will no doubt be filled with so much new information during their Prep orientation and chances are they wont retain it all, so remind them of their teachers name and what activities they will get to do during the day. If they ask questions you don’t know the answer to, encourage them to make a list so they can ask their teacher on the first day.
Over The Holidays
Use the holidays to make sure your child is familiar with the school. This can be by driving or walking past the school and showing your child where it is and talk about how they will get there.If you can, arrange play times with other families whose children will be going to the same school. Having familiar faces will help your child settle into their new environment, especially if your child is nervous about not knowing many people.
Gradually ease your child into a school routine in the week prior to school commencing. This may include adjusting bed times, eating during a designated lunch time, putting out their clothes the night before, packing a bag and even practising putting on their uniform.
The First Day!
Finally, you’ve made it but remember, many children are still nervous and can be upset on their first day. This is perfectly normal. Plan to arrive at school early so you have time for the obligatory photo and a few hugs. Reassure your child that they will be fine and that you can’t wait to see them at the end of the day. Then say your goodbyes and hand them to their teacher. Our teachers are experienced when it comes to first day jitters and are used to quickly understanding and bonding with their students. Try not to worry as their tears won’t last long!
After your child’s first day of school, talk to them about who they spent time with, what they enjoyed and what they are looking forward to tomorrow. This gives you an opportunity to see if your child has any reservations about school so you can talk about them and work through them!