Starting school can be a stressful but very exciting time for your child and for yourself. It’s the next stage in their young lives, they’re growing up, meeting new friends and learning to adapt in a new environment.
Here are some tips to make this transition smoother…
Find out all the right information you can about the school well in advance
- What time does it start and finish?
- What is your child’s teacher’s name?
- How can you contact the school’s staff when required?
- What programs does the school have?
- What items are required, including stationery and uniforms?
Purchase school items together
Purchase school items together and make it a super fun activity by letting your child choose stationery, backpacks, lunchboxes that they love. Your child will feel involved and have a greater understanding of what’s going on. This can help prevent or relieve anxiety about school, and make your child feel safe in a new, overwhelming but exciting environment. Many places have “Back to School” sales at the start of each school year and shopping together can be really exciting lead up to the new school year. I still fondly remember shopping for school items each year with my Mum…and that’s around 30 years ago!
Visit the school with your child before the first big day
Visiting the school in advance can make your child (and yourself!) feel more comfortable about the new environment. Most schools offer an orientation program for new starters and this is a great opportunity to engage your child in the process, making it a positive experience for everyone. Orientation programs are not compulsory but certainly recommended and will help your child feel at ease on day one if they know their way around the classrooms, toilets, office and most importantly – the playground!
Start teaching your child how to focus and pay attention
A lot of children struggle with focusing and paying attention for extended periods of times when they first start school, something they may not have much experience with before. Kinder programs are a great way of starting this process, but you can also assist at home. Teaching your child about working independently and understanding rules will help them immensely with behaviour both in the classroom and socially. This can be as easy as:
- Involving your child in responsibilities around the house;
- Attending children’s plays or a museum to teach your child when it’s appropriate to talk and when it’s not;
- Practicing writing by copying their name as well as other letters and numbers and pictures; and/or
- Building your child’s confidence by teaching them how to introduce themselves.
Children need a very balanced diet to fuel their young bodies (both physically and mentally) during an incredibly active time of their lives. Make sure your children are eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of sleep. If you’re concerned about your child’s eating or sleeping patterns, it might be a good idea to see your health professional prior to starting school.
Being involved in school activities will help make your child understand that you’re there to support them in their new environment. This is especially relevant in the first couple of years as remember, when they grow and become more self-aware and independent, they may want to distance themselves from such involvement. This is where verbal support becomes the primary way to build and maintain a healthy relationship with your child while letting them know you’re there for them.
Good luck on your school journey. Remember, stay positive and as much as possible, have fun!