Starting school can be a very challenging time for both children and parents alike. There is a huge amount of anxiety involved on both sides, but of course, it is your job as a parent to make sire your child feels ready to take this big step. There are both practical and emotional considerations that you need to make which can feel somewhat overwhelming at times. Getting as much information from your child’s new school is a starting point so you can pass this onto them to help them feel reassured. Here are a few ways that you can help your child get ready for school.
Let Them Know About the Schedule
One of the biggest sources of anxiety comes from your child feeling like they won’t know what they are doing when they get to school. First of all, you can explain to them that it will be a little different to their preschool or kindergarten, but there are also a lot of similarities. You can help to reassure your child by giving them an idea of what their schedule will be like – when they start, break for lunch and finish. Kids feel more comfortable having this kind of order in their lives, so letting them know that everything has been planned out for them can really help out.
Ask Them About Their Feelings
Your child will be feeling a whole range of emotions in the days leading up to starting school from anxiety to excitement. If they are feeling particularly worried, you should find out their specific sources of fear and try to address these in the best way you can. Remind them that all their friends and everyone else starting school on the same day as they will be feeling the same way as they do.
Visit the School Before Starting
A great way of dealing with any lasting anxiety is to visit the school before it is time for your child to start. This way, they can visit their new classroom and meet their new teacher. One of the biggest sources of worry for children is going into an environment that they are totally unfamiliar with. And while they won’t know totally what to expect when they start school, they will at least feel more comfortable that they are not taking a complete leap into the unknown.
Get All the Practical Things Sorted
Before your child starts school, there will be a whole range of practical considerations that you need to think about. First of all, you will need to make sure you buy all the right equipment like stationery and books. You should also check with your school for clothing guidelines so you can avoid having the school uniform debate with them further down the line. You may also need to buy food if you are going to be packing a lunch for your child every day. Take your child shopping with you. That way, they can have their say in everything you buy which can help them to feel excited rather than nervous about school.
Practice Some Skills
You will probably be able to get a copy of what your child will be learning during the first few weeks at school. While you don’t want to take the teacher’s job away from them completely, it can’t hurt to get ahead of the game by brushing up on some core skills with your child. As well as being a fun activity for you to share together, it can also help to ease your child’s nerves and will make them feel more comfortable that they will know what they are doing when they get to school.
Arrange for Your Child to Meet a Friend Before School
If your child has a friend that is starting at the same school on the same day, then you could arrange for them to meet up so they can go in together. It certainly helps make everything seem far less daunting if there are two of them. Alternatively, there may be a family in your neighbourhood who you can make friends with so they can walk to school or ride the bus together. Safety in numbers is a phrase that seems to apply pretty well to this particular situation!
Find Out About Social and After-School Activities
A great way of helping your child make friends quickly is by getting them involved in an after-school club. Find out from the school if there is anything available and try to match this up with what hobbies your child is interested in. Ultimately, the more your child gets involved in school life, the more they will settle in quickly and actually look forward to going to school.
Get Them into a Routine
Getting into a regular routine can be a challenge for both children and parents, but you should try to get this set in stone as early as possible. For example, if they need an earlier bedtime and waking up time then it is important to establish this. If your child is tired, it will only make the experience much more stressful for them. The night before the first day at school, you should make sure everything is laid out and prepared so everything runs in as smooth a way as possible.
On the Big Morning…
The day has finally arrived for you to wave your child off to school! Try to minimise distractions like the TV and technology as much as possible. If they are a messy eater, put their uniform on after they have eaten breakfast. Make sure they have a good meal and some water so their brains are ready to function. Try not to take too many photos – though this may be a bit of a challenge! When it comes time to say goodbye, try not to cry as this can cause your child to do the same. Now comes the challenging part of what you are going to do with yourself until it is time to pick them up again!