The idea of your child starting school can be a scary and daunting time for both parents and the child. Your child might have been at nursery for a while but the leap to ‘Big School’ can feel like a challenge.
Your child starting school will be the cause of a huge bag of mixed emotions, both the excitement about growing up and moving onto the next step, and the sadness at watching them become more independent in the sense that they don’t need us parents as much.
We’ve given some useful tips on how to prepare for their big day and the first few weeks.
How to help your child prepare
- The thought of ‘big school’ can be very appealing for children but the change in itself can be quite frightening and they can be quite anxious. To help them prepare let your child know what to expect by reading them books about starting school and talking to them about it. This will greatly reduce their anxiety. Most fears are related to not knowing what is going to happen and where things are, and these can be talked though thoroughly to the best of your knowledge.
- It’s worth finding out what system the school uses so you can help your child know what to expect. Many have an open day before they start which really helps your child to become familiar with the environment, teachers and other children. Also ask to be shown the places that are really important to your child and their settling in process i.e. their classroom, the toilets, where to go for snacks, where the registration area is, where they hang their coat etc…
- Many schools now offer a home-visit to allow the teacher to see your child in your own home environment, which is fantastic. We encourage you to take this up if offered!
- Teach your child ‘life’ skills like getting dressed and undressed, using the toilet independently, washing their hands and putting things away – every little bit of independence helps.
How do schools support my child in their first weeks?
- However your child reacts to school it really helps to remember that the teachers have done it all before. The school will have familiarity on how best to support your child within their first few weeks of settling in and will have a system in place for managing this.
- Schools encourage children to make friends and the teachers will do sessions about sharing and taking turns to make sure no one is left out.
How can you as a parent support your child in their first weeks?
- It’s common for children to wet themselves during school so ensure you always pack a spare pair of underwear during the first couple of terms. Quite often children do not like school toilets and will hang on until it is too late.
- By labelling your child’s clothes and showing your child where you’ve put their name will ensure they do not lose their PE Kit for example. Most schools will have a lost property.
- Get your child involved in buying their school uniform, a school bag, a lunchbox if needed, and their stationary etc…
- If you need child care beyond school hours, start planning your childcare now. Childminders are particularly good for after school care – local councils provide lists of registered childminders or ask the school office if they know who picks up from there.
- When you pick them up from school talk through the events of their day: Ask them open questions (how, what, where, why) and encourage them to have opinions and ask questions.
Preparing for school is so much more about their dispositions and emotions rather than their achievements and abilities. Sending a confident, independent and happy child to school is the true aim and most important emphasis.