If you’re sending your ‘baby’ off to school next year, you can make the transition easier for you both by doing a little preparation before their first day.
Many children are already comfortable with the school they are going to because they have siblings there and have been dragged along to drop-offs and pick-ups for years. But for some the concept of school and the associated rules will be completely foreign.
Either way it’s likely there will be less tears, well from your child not you, if you spend some time preparing them for their new environment.
You’ve probably already talked in great lengths about school, what they will do there and your child has probably visited a few times.
If you can, make sure you attend the orientation day with your child so they become more familiar with the environment, they might also see some of their friends there.
Prepare your child for school between now and January by…
- Talking to your child and ask what they think about school.
- Encouraging them to ask questions about going to school.
- Working on helping your children learn to do things on their own, including dressing, washing their hands, going to the toilet, unwrapping their food, and opening their drink bottle.
- Talking to friends and other families about what school is like.
- Attending transition-to-school programs at your child’s new school.
- Asking how you can be involved in your child’s life at school for example parent helping.
During school holidays you can help prepare them by:
1. Driving them to the school a few times and show them where it is.
2. Talking about how you intend to get there and back, maybe it’s walking, driving or biking.
3. Arranging get-togethers with other families whose children will be going to the same school as your child.
4. Practising the things your child will need to do to get ready for school including packing their bag, remembering their hat and putting on sunblock.
5. Do a dummy run of a school day from getting in the uniform to getting to school in time for when the door opens.
6. Confirming your before and/or after-school care arrangements and showing your child where the outside school hours care facilities are and talking about how they will get there.
7. Talking positively about starting school and enjoying your child’s excitement.
8. Know exactly when and where you should be on the first day to reduce the chances of your stressing out on the first day.
What to do on the first day of school
- Help your schoolie to pack their bag and include a change of clothes and a spare pair of underpants in a plastic bag and let your child know these clothes are there in case of any accidents.
- Encourage your child to dress themselves in their uniform so they can manage things such as taking jumpers on and off.
- Label all belongings and find out where lost property is held at school.
- Sew on a unique badge or patch on their hat so they can easily identify it from others.
- Put sunscreen on your child in the morning if it is needed
- Leave home on time allowing time to say goodbye.
- When you’re there show them where the toilet is.
- At first, you may stay a while to ensure your child feels secure, but once they have settled in, a short and reassuring goodbye encourages independence
- Before you leave show them where you will meet them at the end of the school day
- Arrive in plenty of time to collect your child and talk about what happened at school.
HINT: Remember they will be quite overwhelmed during the first week so probably won’t be able to remember other kid’s names so will probably tell you they did nothing and played with no one. Don’t stress, this is rarely the case!