Starting school is one of the most exciting and challenging times for a family and while some families sail through the transition to school with excitement and enthusiasm, others experience anxiety and tears as the school year approaches.
The first day of school is a particularly significant time, heralding a new phase in a child’s life, however, transition continues throughout the first few weeks as children and families settle into the school environment and become familiar with new routines and develop relationships.
In my experience all children (and parents!) can benefit from a bit of planning and preparation. Here are our top tips to making the transition to school life smoother:
Make sure your child is familiar with the school
The more your child sees of the school, the less they will worry about the unknown. Even if you attended all of our orientation days in the year prior it may be advantageous to take a short trip to the school just before the year begins.
Talk about your child's teacher
All children need to feel connected to their teacher. Our teachers send letters to their students the week before school starts, to share what they have been doing on their holidays. Reading these letters to your child often is a great way to build a positive relationship. Make sure to talk about the teacher in fond and familiar terms! You could even encourage your child to draw a picture for their teacher and give it to them on their first day.
Ask your child what they think school will be like
Get your child thinking and talking about what they can expect at school. This includes being in a classroom, playing, reading, writing, music and art. Revisit the letters that our 2017 Preps sent your child, focussing on what they enjoyed the most about their first year of school. If you know other children who will be in their class, be sure to mention that they will get to play with them too! Make sure to discuss any worries they may have and answer all their questions. The more information they can have the calmer they will be.
Practise the routine
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.
Get them involved
Get your child involved in choosing something that they need for school, like their lunch box, or water bottle. Check that your child can open and use these items easily. You can also ask your child to help label their school items which will give them a sense of pride and ownership.
What happens if you have prepared as much as possible and your child is still anxious and upset?
Rest assured that this is perfectly normal. Plan to arrive at school early so you have time for the obligatory photo and a few hugs. Reassure them 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!