Operation Transformation Psychologist Dr Eddie Murphy advises on helping your child start school

Dr Eddie advises parents on how to prepare their child for their first day of school.
Most of us worry about how our little ones will adapt to the big change of starting school.

Most of us worry about how our little ones will adapt to the big change of starting school.

While it can be exciting for some children, the sudden change in routine can be stressful for others.

Before you begin to prepare your child, it is important you as a parent deal with any anxieties you may have. Children can pick up on such fears, making them feel stressed about being separated from you.

1. Practice - The first and probably the most important thing you can do to ease your child’s anxieties is to introduce them to the environment in which they will soon be immersed.

Most schools will offer orientation days. By bringing your child along to the school they will become familiar with not only the physical space but also some of the staff and other fellow pupils, giving them an idea of what to expect.

2. Social Stories - Talk about the positive things that your child will most likely appreciate about starting school. These include making new friends, participating in fun activities such as arts & crafts and PE Story books about starting school are also useful.

Additionally talk to your child about how they feel and take note of any concerns. Try to ease these concerns by providing your child with various scenarios.

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-ups 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.

4. Preparation Bring your child along while you make all the preparations for starting school, such as buying school supplies. 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.

Parents who show interest and enthusiasm about school can inspire their children to the same positive thoughts and feelings.

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 school routine. By preparing your child in this way, you are ensuring that they will not feel out of sorts once school does start.

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? 

Some children go to after-school care on certain days only and come straight home other days - ensure your child is aware of any plans so as to avoid confusion or distress. 

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 Do not linger around the classroom. If you are 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 is more useful to your child than a drawn-out goodbye. You can call the school later to check on how they are doing. And you’ll probably find out that they are doing fine.

Best of Luck!