Like many families our firstborn is heading to school for the first time!
Like the majority of parents we wonder how our little ones are going to adapt to the big change of starting school. While going to school for the first time can be exciting for some children, it could also be stressful for others.
Before you begin to prepare your child for their starting school, it is important you as a parent deal with any anxieties or fears you may have. Children can pick up on such anxieties, making them feel stressed about the idea of starting school and being separated from you.
1. Practice -
The first and probably the most important thing you can do for your child to ease any fears or anxieties is to introduce them to the school environment in which they will soon be immersed in. Most schools will facilitate this by means of orientation days.
2. Social Stories -
Try talk to your child about the positive things that they will most likely appreciate about starting school. These include making new friends, participating in fun activities such as arts&crafts or P.E. Story books about starting school are also useful as they often highlight the positive aspects associated with school.
3. Role Play
For example; ask your child what do you do if you need to use the toilet. You then inform your child that they need to ask one of grown-up’s in the classroom if they can use the toilet. Give them a different scenario perhaps if the child wants to play with a toy that another child is playing with. Advise your child to wait patiently and perhaps say ‘would you mind if I played with that toy after you have finished’. By preparing your child in this way it will make your child more comfortable and confident in the classroom.
In addition it is helpful to bring your child along while you make all the preparations for starting school. Parents who show interest and enthusiasm about school can inspire their children to embrace the same positive thoughts and feelings about opening of classes. If possible allow them to pick out their own lunch box and school bag. This will make their first day a school all the more exciting.
5. Establish Routine:
Do not wait until the last minute to establish school habits. In the upcoming weeks agree on bed time and wake up times that will resemble the routine whilst school begins. By preparing your child in this way, you are ensuring that they will not feel out of sorts once school does start, which will make the transition easier for both you and your child.
6. After School Plans
What are the plans for your child after school, do they go to formal or informal childcare or come straight home after school? Will you be collecting your child from school or will a family member, friend or babysitter be collecting them? Ensure your child is aware of any plans so as to avoid confusion or distress. If at all possible, try and avoid ‘after-school’ clubs or babysitters during the first week back at school. Your child will no doubt feel tired, excited or even nervous during the first week back, so straight home after school will help to alleviate any anxiety
7. On the Day
If your allowed, bring your child into the classroom and tell them you will be back to collect them later, do not set a specific time. A quick exit may be more useful to your child than a drawn-out goodbye. You can call the school later to check on how a young child is doing. And you’ll probably find out that their doing fine.
By keeping in mind the above steps this big transition in both your life and your child’s life can become less stressful.
Best of Luck!